Methamphetamine abuse, long a problem in rural West Coast communities, is moving east at epidemic proportions, says a survey released by the National Association of Counties and reported by McClatchy-Tribune News Service. The survey said the addictive stimulant is pushing crime rates higher and stretching county law enforcement thin. And as new regulations have made pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient for making methamphetamine, more difficult to obtain, officers are seeing an influx of out-of-state and out-of-country drugs, said Sheriff John Whetsel of Oklahoma County, Ok.
The telephone survey, titled “The Methamphetamine Epidemic: The Criminal Effect of Meth on Communities,” polled 500 sheriffs from 44 states. Nationwide, 48 percent of survey respondents reported methamphetamine as their No. 1 drug problem. Many of the respondents were from rural areas in the heart of the country – 62 percent were from the Midwest, and 77 percent represented counties with populations of 50,000 or fewer. Forty-eight percent of those polled said domestic violence had gone up because of the drug; 55 percent reported an increase in robbery or burglary; and 41 percent reported an increase in simple assault. While concerns about methamphetamines are mounting, federal funding to combat the drug, Whetsel says, has dwindled. “It makes absolutely no sense to fight a war on drugs and then reduce the funding when you’re in the midst of battle,” he said.