"Forgotten Drug" Meth Surges In Utah

By Kelly Burch 05/11/18

Meth seizures have quadrupled in the state since 2008.

cops arresting a man in front of a house

A year ago Stephanie World’s life was controlled by getting her next fix. However, World’s drug of choice wasn’t heroin, prescription pills or any other of the opioids that dominate the news cycle: it was methamphetamine. 

"I've done every drug under the sun. But that's the one that really got me,” World told Good 4 Utah

After participating in a treatment program, World is now working to regain her life and re-establish a relationship with her children. 

"One thing it did with my parenting — it made me very detached from my kids," said World. "The drug becomes more important than going to work, and money toward drugs becomes more important than paying your rent.”

Officials in Utah say that World isn’t alone. Meth seizures are increasing in the state, and the overdose rate from the drug is up too. In 2008, 45 people died from methamphetamine in the state; by 2014 the number had more than doubled to 93; and by 2016 141 deaths were blamed on the drug. 

"Meth is kind of the forgotten drug out there, and it's still a huge problem in our society," Lt. Todd Royce with Utah Highway Patrol told Fox13 Salt Lake City. "It's a horrible epidemic and it destroys families."

Royce said that seizures of meth have increased from 71 kilos in 2014 to 225 kilos last year. Now, it is the drug that highway patrol officers are most likely to find when they’re searching a vehicle. 

"We'd like to say we get 100% of it but we know that that's not the case," Royce said.

Sgt. Randy Riches, with Utah Highway Patrol, said that more meth is being brought into Utah from Mexico and Southern California. 

"The meth loads are more frequent, they're larger," he said.

How meth is made and distributed has changed recently, as laws and regulations making it more difficult to manufacture meth have taken effect. 

"Several years ago, we used to have the in-home meth labs, the mobile meth labs — where people were cooking their own meth," Riches said. "Since they banned the pre-cursors to make that, a lot of stuff's being shipped up.”

In fact, meth shipped by Mexican cartels is becoming a growing area of concern for law enforcement throughout the Southwest. 

“The No. 1 drug seized by all of our task forces is meth,” Keith Carter, deputy director of the Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, said earlier this year.

He noted that in many areas of the Southwest meth is more accessible and cheaper than opioids. “The meth being manufactured in Mexico is very high quality meth, and very potent.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.