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Methamphetamine: A National Response

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 72 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2005 Pages: 32-35
John P. Walters
Date Published
April 2005
4 pages
After reviewing the prevalence of methamphetamine production and use, this article notes the dangers of meth labs and the national response in the areas of prevention, treatment, the regulation of precursor chemicals, and law enforcement.
The 2003 U.S. National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 12.3 million Americans ages 12 and older tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetimes, and 1.3 million reported using meth in the past year. The National Drug Intelligence Center reports that 36 percent of State and local law enforcement agencies have indicated methamphetamine to be their greatest drug threat. Meth not only has harmful physical and psychological effects on its users, meth labs pose a toxic threat to the environment and to the children who live with the meth "cooks." In October 2004, the national response to the meth crisis was laid out in the National Synthetic Drugs Action Plan. The Action Plan focuses on four core areas: preventing the abuse of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs, treating those addicted to synthetic drugs, regulating chemicals and precursors, and imposing strict penalties on those who illegally divert or traffic the drugs or precursor chemicals. For the past 3 years, the Federal budget has annually committed $79.2 million to methamphetamine cleanup, interdiction, and enforcement. Agencies at all levels of government have been forced to spend millions to remedy the environmental and physical damage left behind by dismantled clandestine meth labs, diverting limited resources from other programs and operations. States and the Federal Government are considering, and in some cases have enacted, legislation to reduce the supply of precursor chemicals used in meth production. Meth-specific treatment programs now exist, and funding is available for addicted individuals needing treatment. Drug Endangered Children programs and safety protocols have been implemented locally for meth's innocent victims.