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The Staggering Methamphetamine Problem in North America


Globally, the drug problem has caused concerns for authorities and communities for years. The 2013 World Drug Report, presented at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, sheds light on the growing methamphetamine problem and specifically, its concentration in North America (2013 World Drug Report notes stability in use of traditional drugs and points to alarming rise in new psychoactive substance). While government seizures of methamphetamine have increased worldwide, 61% of all seizures were reported by North America; which points to an alarming and dangerous trend for our local societies: North America seems to have the highest consumption, production, and trafficking of crystal meth in the world (Kelley).

As the World Drug Report reveals, government seizures of methamphetamine grew by 73% from 2010 to 2011, and the majority of these seizures were reported by Mexico and the U.S. (Kelley). Not only were these the countries that reported the most seizures, but the amount they seized were the highest in the world. In addition, the amount of methamphetamine labs in the U.S. (where there are globally the most meth labs) quadrupled in the same time period (Kelley). As well as seizing the actual drug, authorities made the largest government seizure of precursor chemicals and drug money at a Pacific port used by Mexican cartels – 252 tons of precursor chemicals and hundreds of millions of dollars (Kelley). Not only are the numbers staggering, but the problems they present are as well. Methamphetamine has always been regarded as a highly addictive drug, but it seems that it may be truer now than ever: cartel meth, which is up to 90% pure, accounts for about 80% of the methamphetamine sold in the United States (Kelley).

Unsurprisingly, this presents enormous problems for our society in multiple facets: drug-related crime, communal safety, and mortality rates are all directly connected to this growing issue. North America is still the biggest illegal drug market in the world, and also has the highest drug related mortality rate; approximately 1 in every 20 deaths of people between the ages of 15 and 64 is drug-related (Scutti). Methamphetamine users have a reputation for violence, and this violence encourages fear, instability, and unrest in local communities all over North America; particularly in the communities that are overrun with cartel related violence. As the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon observes, “The billions of dollars generated by the drug trade feed corruption, enhance the power of criminal networks and create fear and instability” (Scutti). As a society – both governmentally and socially – we are responsible for taking steps to try to solve or lessen this issue.

The presentation of the World Drug Report in Vienna was actually the first step in an international plan of action for drug related problems worldwide. The next step they are planning to take is to present the Political Declaration and Plan of Action to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2014, followed by the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session relating to these problems (Scutti). In the meantime, there are things local societies and family units can do as well. First and foremost, it is important that we accurately educate our youth about the prevalence of this problem as well as on the effects it has on not only them, but the people around them, and society as a whole. Also, if people suspect that someone is involved with criminal activity, or say, the production of methamphetamine, they can always place an anonymous call to authorities. Through honest, open communication, mentorship programs, and increased awareness surrounding this issue, we can hopefully lessen the demand for this deadly drug and in doing so; start to correct this enormous problem.


Works Cited:

“2013 World Drug Report notes stability in use of traditional drugs and points to alarming rise in new psychoactive substance.” 26 June 2013. UNRIC. Web. 3 July 2013.

Kelley, Michael. “World Drug Report Reveals The Staggering Extent Of North America’s Meth Problem.” 26 June 2013. Business Insider. Web. 3 July 2013.

Scutti, Susan. “Drug Trafficking As Well As Drug Abuse Pose Health Threat To Many, UN Report States.” 28 June 2013. Medical Daily. Web. 3 July 2013.

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Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs, Research, Substance Abuse · Tags: government seizures, methamphetamine, North America, World Drug Report is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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