usa-map usa-map

Learn more about the dangers of smurfing here

Learn more

Tulsa World Editorial: Meth Addiction: Treatment, Education, Accountability Best Approaches

11.15.15 – Editorial Staff, Tulsa World

Seizures of illegal methamphetamine labs are down dramatically across the state, and fire departments here and elsewhere no longer regularly race to douse explosive fires threatening their communities.

But don’t be fooled: local meth production has waned but meth consumption has not.

Far too many Oklahomans remain addicted to the state’s most dangerous street drug — a drug that is relatively cheap and widely available from Mexican drug cartels that fill in where the locals left off, with ever more potent variations of the stimulant.

A governor’s task force several years ago estimated the cost of Oklahoma’s meth problem at $1 billion annually. Itemized costs included enforcement, clean-up of illegal labs, court costs, and prison costs of up to $19,000 per year. The tab also included property damage, medical care, mental health treatment and child-welfare costs.

State officials no longer can say with certainty what meth addiction costs the state. They agree that meth remains a scourge, debilitating to those who use it and putting a drain on taxpayers.

Local and state agencies have vigorously and consistently enforced laws. The Legislature has passed some of the toughest penalties in the country for meth manufacture and distribution. But the state can never arrest its way out of this problem.

A second line of attack has been making the precursor drug used in the manufacture of meth, pseudoephedrine or PSE, harder to get.

Oklahoma was the first state to take PSE sales behind the counter at pharmacies and to limit how much of the drug a buyer could acquire.

More recently the state became one of 31 states that use the National Precursor Log Exchange, which tracks pseudoephedrine purchases in real time across state lines and blocks purchases at the cash register if a buyer attempts to purchase too many grams of PSE in one day or too much in one month. For the first six months of this year, the system blocked the sale of 23,697 boxes of pseudoephedrine, which cut down on locally produced meth.

Oklahoma also maintains a registry of nearly 20,000 meth offenders who cannot make PSE purchases.

Oklahoma’s steps to curb the production and use of meth are commendable, but consumption numbers continue to rise.

To get the jump on meth addiction, Oklahoma must reinforce and support different approaches.

The next steps are educating the young and treating the addicted.

Maintaining drug courts is also a big part of the solution. They are far cheaper and more effective than incarceration, and they hold offenders accountable, requiring them to undergo regular drug tests, receive treatment and to find a job and support their families. These courts have had success in keeping users clean and sober. But as with other state services, limited funding restricts how many offenders the courts can serve.

Read more here.