Jane Maxwell
Jane Maxwell, PhD

A decade ago, methamphetamine was a major problem in Texas and across the nation because of the availability of ephedrine and other cold medicines to make the drug. After these cold medicines were regulated in 2005-2006, there was a decrease in meth production and indicators of use and misuse dropped.

But now a new methamphetamine epidemic is quietly rising in the southern and western states, all while media headlines and lawmakers focus on the increasing number of deaths due to heroin and prescription pain pills. I should know, I’ve studied patterns of substance abuse for more than 40 years. Specifically in Texas, this new methamphetamine epidemic appears intertwined with increases in yet another problem: sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

What has happened is that we have a new precursor, phenyl-2-propanone (P2P), which is used by Mexican drug cartels to make methamphetamine. When made with P2P, meth is much more potent and has more ability to produce greater intoxication and enhanced dependence.

And the problem is getting worse. In 2015, 91 percent of methamphetamine tested in forensic laboratories in the United States was made with P2P from Mexico. Because of the demand in the United States, the kilogram amount seized at the Mexico border increased 37 percent between 2010 and 2015. Last year, the Dallas and Houston DEA divisions ranked methamphetamine among the top two drug threats in their areas, similar to Atlanta and Los Angeles.

More available methamphetamine means more misuse and overdoses. In Texas, the number of people being admitted to treatment programs has doubled, as has the number of calls to poison centers specifically due to meth overdose. Methamphetamine has become the major drug problem in areas of Texas previously dominated by heroin.

Continue reading this opinion piece by professor Jane Maxwell in the Waco Tribune