Putting the "Meh" in "Meth Epidemic"

Everyone knows everyone else is all hopped up on meth, especially those weirdo rural kids. A new report from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine finds what they say are high levels of prescription drug non-prescribed use (13 percent vs. a mere 11.5 percent of cityfolk), but with meth as among the least popular "drugs of abuse" among 18,000 rural youth (12-17 years old) surveyed. Some details:

The survey also covered use of illegal drugs and alcohol. Perhaps surprisingly, given media reports of rampant methamphetamine abuse in rural areas, the survey data found no differences in rates of reported use of this drug between rural, suburban/small metro, and urban teens.

In fact, methamphetamine was one of the least popular of the 12 drugs of abuse included in the survey. Less than 1% of adolescent respondents said they had ever used methamphetamine -- compared with roughly 4% who reported using hallucinogens, 10% saying they had tried inhalants, and 10% who had used prescription pain relievers for nonmedical purposes.

About 40% reported having drunk alcohol at some point.

There were no significant differences between rural, suburban/small metro, and urban teens for lifetime use of alcohol or any illicit drug. Only misuse of prescription drugs differed by rural-urban status.

Jacob Sullum whipped up some home-made truth to debunk meth scare stories back in 2005.

[Hat tip: the Drug Policy Alliance's Meghan Ralston]

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  • Fluffy||

    Skinny kids in torn clothes in cities just look like Calvin Klein ads.

    When you put those kids in front of rusted-out trailers and tumbleweeds, people scream "Meth addicts!"

    Context is everything I guess.

  • ||

    Those hillbillies are obviously lying to throw them revenuers off the scent.

  • ||

    All risky behavior must now be punished severely.

    Skydiving...verboten
    Bear Hunting...not a chance
    Car Racing...fuggedaboudit
    Dating...hahaha, but seriously...

  • Stress N. Strain||

    Still, Breaking Bad is a great show. Amiright?

  • Old Mexican||

    Less than 1% of adolescent respondents said they had ever used methamphetamine -- compared with roughly 4% who reported using hallucinogens, 10% saying they had tried inhalants, and 10% who had used prescription pain relievers for nonmedical purposes.

    There's clearly an area of opportunity for the meth market, probably more aggressive marketing could yield improved sales.

  • waffles||

    ever see the Montana Meth commercials? Apparently on meth you can rob your younger self in a laundromat. It's pretty fucking rad, definite seller for me.

  • ||

    There's one of those hysterical (in more ways than one) TV commercials here where you can see yourself bleeding and covered with sores in the shower.

  • waffles||

    the best part is when you grab your younger self by the shoulders and scream "YOUR LIFE WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY!"

  • ||

    I say that to myself everyday...

  • waffles||

    that isn't normal...but on meth it is

  • 40-somethin' Lumberjack||

    If it wasn't for meth I'd never get any $15 teenage poontang

  • ||

    Apparently on meth you can rob your younger self

    Possible solution to the social security problem?

  • ||

    "There were no significant differences between rural, suburban/small metro, and urban teens for lifetime use of alcohol or any illicit drug."

    Was that a national study or just Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    My father was a probation officer and he said that meth was one of the worst drugs that he had seen. He was mostly talking about how addictive it was.

    He wasn't being an alarmist, he just said meth seemed to be more addictive than other drugs.

    Of course, he didn't think other drugs were as addictive as most people claimed, and he was an outspoken proponent of legalizing drugs.

    One of the things he told me was that all drugs go through cycles. He predicted meth would die down on its own. According to him, if a drug really has bad effects, the younger siblings see the damage it does to their older brothers and sisters and steer clear of it on their own. The truly harmless stuff never goes out of style because everyone sees older kids doing it with no real damage.

  • ||

    ...and jailing addicts and dealers is no solution either...there are lots of ways people kill themselves and lots of people willing to help them do that (though dealers don't try and kill off their customers any more than bartenders do). The key is society can recognize and help alcoholics without attacking bartenders. Why we can't have the same courtesy for other dealers?

  • ||

    "Tweekers suck!"

    I first saw that bumper sticker in 1985.

  • Leroy||

    Probation officers (and other law enforcement in general) believe they experts on many things. Two of the big ones are drugs and minorities.

    They never really grasp the concept that the segment of the population they deal with is not a representative sample of the true population

  • BakedPenguin||

    It's funny that they talk about what percentage of teens have used drugs at some point in their lives, yet the article's headline is about drug abuse. Use a drug once, you are an abuser!

    Granted, kids should not be doing drugs. However, the idea that all drug use = abuse is BS.

  • Steve||

    I think if the drug is illegal then it is abuse because if you need it so bad that you are willing to break the law, you are an addict.

  • Legalization Fairy||

    (waves wand)

    You're no longer an abusing addict!

  • Rhywun||

    I hope that is snark.

  • ||

    I figure I should serve....O, about 32 trillion years for self abuse.
    But the innertubes made me do it...I was just innocently visiting porn sites, and they just kept sucking me back in (figuratively...unfortunately)

  • Coeus||

    I hope that is snark.

    That last "you are an addict" part pretty much proves it. But still, I remember in DARE, when Officer Lying Fuck-head (he might as well have legally changed his name to that after he told us that a single use of marijuana as kids could cause birth defects in our future children) told us that, since there was no valid use, the government qualifies even a single use of an illegal drug as abuse.

  • ||

    The evolution of meth is awesome story of unintended consequences from DEA bans on precursors going all the way back to the eighties.

    Its telling how people make rationalized choices (for the most part) over time and experience with respect to this kind of stuff. PCP was going to be fad. Crack was huge fad. Ecstasy was going to make the sun burn out. China White Heroine was going to have us all blowing our dealers behind dumpsters for another taste before long.

    Yet none of that happened, because the ultimate costs are not worth the ultimate benefits for virtually all but a small subset of people (who will find whatever is available to abuse anyways).

    Yet weed sticks around, stays popular, very telling...

  • ||

    So this means that the government anti-meth scare campaigns and cold medicine registries worked, right?

    I keed, I keed...

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