Meth Remains Greater Issue Than Opioids In Rural Minnesota

By Beth Leipholtz 09/04/18

"In 2009 meth use shot upward and it's been steadily climbing," said one city official.

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While many areas of the United States are battling the opioid epidemic, parts of rural Minnesota are facing a different battle: meth. 

According to the Mankato Free Press, a new study by the Center for Rural Policy and Development has found that treatment admissions for meth are increasing, as are fatalities from the drug.

The study determined that in 2016, 7,664 people in Greater Minnesota entered treatment for meth, which was a 25% increase from 2015 and about double the amount of people seeking treatment for meth in the Twin Cities.

"We've been bombarded with the news of all the deaths from opioids. Our job is to find out what may be the same or different in Greater Minnesota than in the Twin Cities," Marnie Werner, interim executive director of the Center for Rural Policy and Development, told the Mankato Free Press. "As soon as we started talking to a few county administrators, we found that opioids are a problem, but meth is a bigger problem."

According to Werner, the state as a whole appears to have a large issue with opioids due to the size of the Twin Cities. "The Twin Cities is so large it skews the statewide data,” she said. 

For Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott, the report's findings were not new information.

"Meth continues to be the drug of choice and probably the primary controlled substance we deal with and the drug task force deals with," he told the Mankato Free Press. “Meth crimes are what's driving our numbers and the drug task force's numbers. There are five times as many meth cases than cocaine... (and) four times more meth cases than prescription cases."

While Werner says that meth use dropped in the early 2000s—when it became required that pseudoephedrine cold medicines, often used to make meth, be sold behind pharmacy counters and be limited in quantity. However, she says, meth manufacturing then picked up in Mexico and entered the U.S.

"In 2009 meth use shot upward and it's been steadily climbing," Werner told the Free Press. "The way it's being mass produced, prices have dropped and it's very affordable to people. So these people who have underlying addiction or mental health problems who maybe couldn't afford drugs before can now." 

Blue Earth County has some initiatives in place to help combat drug issues, such as the Yellow Line Project, which allows first-time offenders to seek treatment rather than go to jail. 

"If you get them connected to services sooner rather than later, you're better off. If you put someone in prison for three years, they're going to come out with the same mindset they had,” McDermott told the Free Press.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.