The opioid epidemic has killed tens of thousands over the last two years and driven major reforms in state and local law enforcement and public health policies. Now another deadly but popular drug, methamphetamine, is also surging in many parts of the nation, Stateline reports. Federal officials say that, based on what they learned as opioids swept the U.S., methamphetamine is likely to spread even further. “The beginning of the opioid epidemic was 2000 and we thought it was just localized,” said Kimberly Johnson of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Now we know that drug outbreaks aren’t likely to stay localized so we can start addressing them sooner and letting other states know of the potential for it spreading.”
From Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma to Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota and all across the South, inexpensive methamphetamine is flowing in from Mexico. The surge is fueling what police and epidemiologists say is an alarming increase in the number of people using the drug, and dying from it. Nationwide, regular use of the inexpensive and widely available illicit stimulant increased from 3 to 4 percent of the population between 2010 and 2015. At the same time, heroin use rose from 1 to 2 percent of the population. The number of people using methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal meth, crystal, crank, ice and speed, has been among the highest of any illicit substance for decades. Despite the stimulant’s harmful long-term effects on the body — including rotting teeth, heart and kidney failure, and skin lesions — its overdose potential is much lower than prescription painkillers and other opioids.