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Article Summary

Meth Statistics In The United States

The past 25 years have seen a significant increase in the public health concerns associated with the production and use of methamphetamine in the United States.

Even though popular press now refers to meth as the most dangerous drug in the country, there is some controversy about the extent of the problem. Still, epidemiological indicators provide a clear insight into the issue.

That said, national surveys conducted into the adult and school based population in the US that abuses the drug supports the position that such use is relatively minor in comparison to other intoxicating substances such as alcohol and marijuana.

However, other data sources from law enforcement agencies, substance abuse treatment programs, the criminal justice system, welfare agencies, and county/state executives now show that meth is a significant public health concern for many communities all over the country.

In this guide, you will learn more about meth statistics in the United States, the historical roots of the problems, as well as the epidemiological trends of the problem and the key populations that are at risk of having a substance use disorder related to methamphetamine. Read on to find out more:

Understanding Meth

Otherwise known as crystal meth or methamphetamine, meth is classified as a Schedule II stimulant drug by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) under the Controlled Substances Act.

It appears as an extremely powerful, odorless, and white substance that is highly addictive. As such, meth is among the most widely abused substances in the United States.

U.S. Statistics On Meth

Even though some amphetamine-based drugs come with medical purposes and are now available through a doctor's prescription, most of the illegal meth on the street is manufactured in illicit laboratories commonly referred to as meth labs.

Due to the dangers linked to the illegal manufacture of the drug, these clandestine labs often have run-ins with the law and cause problems for citizens. In most cases, the chemicals used to manufacture meth are explosive, highly toxic, and might lead to a variety of complications and risks. These ingredients include:

  • Battery acid
  • Brake fluid
  • Engine cleaner
  • Iodine
  • Lighter fluid
  • Paint thinner
  • Red phosphorous
  • Rubbing alcohol

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), new statistics show that there were more than 3700 deaths arising from meth overdoses in 2012. Similarly, over 4500 people lost their lives as a result of the drug in 2015. This was an increase of 30 percent.

On the other hand, SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reports that meth use rose from 3 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2015. Although this might not seem like a large increase, it is quite significant given than heroin use only rose from 1 percent to 2 percent during the same period.

In particular, methamphetamine is becoming more rampant in various parts of the South and the Midwest. For instance, in Oklahoma the drug was responsible for over 300 overdose deaths in 2016. The drug also surpassed the death rates arising from hydrocodone and oxycodone overdose combined.

The rise in meth abuse has also been prompting more people to seek addiction treatment and rehabilitation. In Minnesota, for example, over 11,000 people were admitted into treatment facilities in 2015 - close to twice the number of people who sought help for such an addiction barely a decade before. Additionally, other parts of the country that didn't have any past history of meth abuse also saw a spike in the number of people seeking treatment and rehabilitation for addiction.

When all is said and done, whether you use illicit methamphetamine or legal amphetamine, the chemicals involved are addictive and dangerous. To this end, even prescription medications that contain the same amphetamines found in meth are a major risk factor.

That said, the problems related to abusing this powerful stimulant tend to vary from one person to the next depending on how you use the drug, how much you take, how long you have been abusing it, and the purity of the batch you use. As a direct result, those who crush or inject meth tend to suffer different complications that might prove to be fatal.

A 2005 national survey, for example, showed that 10.4 million people aged 12 and older admitted that they had used the drug at some point in their lives. Additionally, it was revealed that over 5% of high school seniors had tried it.

On the other hand, the total number of first time users of the drug was estimated to have reached and passed the 105,000 mark in 2010 while the DEA seized more than 4500 pounds of meth that was illegally manufactured. The US government also reports that meth is now the most widely abused addictive substance in the whole country.

Further, the DEA has reported that while most of the meth that is found in the country is produced locally, most of it is manufactured in Mexico before being smuggled by Mexican cartels across the border.

Who Uses Meth?

Meth can be dangerous and come with fatal side effects especially when it is used in a non-medical situation. In spite of these dangers associated with it, however, use is still high in the United States.

In fact, the DEA now reports that only 16000 prescriptions for amphetamine-based drugs were issued in 2012. Additionally, close to 4000 such prescriptions were written during the first quarter of 2013, which maintained the expected rate.

In the same way, the total legal production quotas for meth in the country for 2013 was set at less than 4 kg or 4 metric tons. When you compare this to reports of the 500 metric tons of the drug produced around the globe and the 42 metric tons consumed in the country and you will see just how widespread the problem is.

The following statistics show the amount of meth (in metric tons) consumed in the United States on an annual basis:

  • 2000 - 20
  • 2001 - 26
  • 2002 - 41
  • 2003 - 48
  • 2004 - 61
  • 2005 - 85
  • 2006 - 58
  • 2007 - 54
  • 2008 - 39
  • 2009 - 40
  • 2010 - 42

Additionally, more than 12.3 million Americans aged 12 and above reported in 2013 that they had used meth at one point or the other in their life. This number is a slight decrease from that reported in 2012. However, the same decline is now clear in the last month and last year non-medical use of the drug since these numbers saw a steady increase.

Additionally, about 30000 more Americans admitted that they had used meth for non-medical reasons in 2012. In the same way, over 15000 more people admitted to abusing the drug in the last month in 2013 than in 2012. Of all the 12.3 million meth users, close to 530,000 of them might be regular users.

The meth statistics in the United States shown below are related to young people who use the drug non-medically:

  • 2009 - 19,000
  • 2010 - 9,000
  • 2011 - 34,000
  • 2012 - 11,000
  • 2013 - 12,000

These numbers are encouraging in the sense that even though the overall use of meth has been increasing or remaining steady, use among teens has been showing a sharp decline according to findings released by NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse). These findings report that lifetime use of meth:

  • By 8th graders went down from 1.3 percent in 2011 to 1 percent in 2014
  • By 10th graders went down from 2.1 percent in 2011 to 1.4 percent in 2014
  • By 12th graders went down from 2.1 percent in 2011 to 1.9 percent in 2014

The Market For Meth

The meth market is high across different parts of the globe. However, since legitimate production of the drug is still low, little of the amounts that are abused come from diverted legitimate medical prescriptions. Most of the substance actually comes from illicit manufacturing.

In the United States, meth has always been a billion dollar industry for many years. In 2005, it was at an all-time high of $23 billion but went down to around $13 billion by 2010.

The following statistics show the amount of money (given in billions USD) people spend on meth from year to year:

  • 2000 - 8
  • 2001 - 11
  • 2002 - 15
  • 2003 -17
  • 2004 - 20
  • 2005 - 23
  • 2006 - 22
  • 2007 - 20
  • 2008 - 16
  • 2009 - 15
  • 2010 - 13

On average, the price of quarter of a gram of meth is $20 while a full gram goes for $80. On the other hand, a 16th of an ounce (a gram and three quarters) costs around $120 while an 8 ball (which is 3 and �' grams) goes for $200.00.

Thus, it is clear that the $13 billion that is spent every year on meth is a relatively high price that users take on. Counterintuitively, however, the industry made the greatest amount of money in 2005 when the drug was at its cheapest. Since then, it recovered in price before dropping significantly in 2010.

Online Searches For Meth

The spending related to meth follows similar trends to the volume of online searches for the substances. Some of the trends for internet search queries for meth include:

  • Search interest for methamphetamine peaked in May 2005
  • Search interest declined significantly until July 2009 before showing consistency after this date
  • Search trends for meth show that Texas, New York, and California tend to historically show the greatest interest in the substance
  • At the moment, however, Hawaii and Mississippi have overtaken California in terms of internet activity related to meth

Methamphetamine And The Law

At the moment, only the people who receive one of the 16000 prescriptions for meth-based drugs per year can legally use it. The DEA has classified it as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, as we discussed earlier. This means that the law also imposes restrictions on the drug, including but not limited to:

  • Constraints on how doctors and pharmacists can fill and refill prescriptions
  • Limits on manufacturing
  • More serious consequences and punitive measures for the illegal use, possession, manufacture, and distribution of the drug

However, since it is so easy to produce meth using relatively inexpensive materials, the DEA has also made the ingredients required to manufacture the drug - including pseudoephedrine, which is used in most cold medication formulations - are now harder to obtain (particularly in large quantities).

Today, these medications are no longer available for sale over the counter because law enforcement is still trying to limit their availability for use in producing methamphetamine.

Due to the legal status of the drug, authorities have been active in seizing and tracking large quantities of meth and closing down illegal operations that manufacture the drug.

Any illicit activity related to meth also carries strict legal consequences. To ensure that you are not affected, keep the following in mind:

  • Repeated trafficking of Schedule II substances like meth (which could be fewer than 50 g) might carry a life sentence
  • State penalties for possessing these Schedule II substances might include prison sentences going as far up as 15 years
  • The DEA classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II controlled drug
  • The various effects of meth can lead to impaired driving, eventually causing you to receive DUI charges

The Dangers Of Meth

Meth is, directly and indirectly, a highly addictive and dangerous drug. It also carries social, psychological, and physical risks including high blood pressure, weight loss, skin picking, convulsion, and even death.

The meth statistics in the United States listed below show the number of emergency room visits related to the drug by people who were seeking detoxification services and treatments:

  • 2006 - 6,211
  • 2007 - 6,287
  • 2008 - 9,908
  • 2009 - 9,580

On the other hand, the following show the meth related visits to emergency rooms in different years:

  • 2004 - 132,576
  • 2005 - 109,655
  • 2006 - 79,924
  • 2007 - 67,954
  • 2008 - 66,308
  • 2009 - 64,117
  • 2010 - 94,929
  • 2011 - 102,961


Although national trends show a decline, meth abuse is still an endemic problem affecting people in different parts of the country. If you are among these people, you should take the time to understand these meth statistics in the United States and start looking for appropriate solutions to the problem - including detox and drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation.






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