Although the nation’s attention continues to be on opioids, methamphetamine is still a large threat in states all over the country. Meth is a highly addictive substance that is often manufactured illegally in clandestine laboratories. Many of these labs are located in other countries like Mexico and the meth is trafficked into the U.S. illegally. However, some labs still exist in America and are responsible for some of the meth being dealt on the streets or sold online.
How Big is the Meth Problem?
Methamphetamine is extremely addictive and users can suffer severe consequences from abusing it regularly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017, nearly 33 percent involved cocaine or psychostimulants like meth.1
Not only is meth addiction personally destructive, but it also contributes to rates of violent crime, theft, homelessness, and consumes a great deal of law enforcement resources and local funding.
According to the 2017 National Drug Threat Survey (NDTS), nearly 30 percent of responding agencies reported that methamphetamine was the greatest drug threat in their areas. The Midwest and Western United States had the highest concentrations of respondents who reported methamphetamine as the greatest drug threat.2
Thirty percent of NDTS respondents nationwide reported methamphetamine as the drug that takes up the most law enforcement resources, second only to heroin. Additionally, NDTS respondents nationwide reported methamphetamine as the drug that most contributes to violent crime.2
Top 10 Meth States in the U.S.
We used recent data from the National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System compiled by the Missouri State Highway Patrol to determine the top 10 meth states in the U.S. This list is based on the number of meth-related seizure incidents, including discoveries of meth labs, glassware, chemicals, and equipment used to “cook” meth, as well as meth lab dumpsites discovered in each state.3 We also included recent statistics and findings about overall meth use and meth-related overdoses in each state.
In 2018, the top 10 meth states in the U.S. were:
- Michigan (220 incidents)
The state of Michigan has more drug problems than just meth to deal with. Findings published by Wallethub indicated that Michigan is the state with the second-highest rate of drug use, topped only by D.C.4 However, state authorities call Kalamazoo the “epicenter” of Meth in Michigan. The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor said the number of meth-related cases has doubled in the last three years and one in five felony charges are for possessing, selling, or manufacturing meth.5 Much of the meth problem in Michigan is due to crystal meth that is imported from places like Mexico.6
- New York (220 incidents)
Opioids are generally a much greater problem on the East Coast so they receive more press coverage than methamphetamine. However, New York City officials are concerned about the spread of crystal meth in the city. Previously, crystal meth had primarily been used within the gay community in NYC, but officials say large-scale suppliers have targeted New York City and its many nightclubs as a new market. Much of the meth being pushed into New York City is due to Mexican cartels attempting to gain new clients.7
- Indiana (144 incidents)
Evansville was once described as the “meth capital of the world” although the number of methamphetamine-related incidents in 2019 has greatly decreased since 2013. According to The Indiana State Police Methamphetamine Suppression Section (MSS), the top five Indiana counties with clandestine meth labs in 2018 were Delaware, Vigo, Knox, Bartholomew, Jackson, St. Joesph, and Tippecanoe.8 In 2013, the Meth Suppression Unit seized 115 labs and in 2018 that number was down to just five.9 However, the 2018 data from the National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System still reflects a statewide problem.
- Illinois (129 incidents)
According to recent media reports, DEA said its seizures of meth in Illinois jumped from 72.9kg in 2017 to 289.9kg in 2018. Most of the meth in Illinois is being trafficked through the state by Mexican drug cartels and since 2017, the Illinois State Police have seized more than 120 pounds of meth and hundreds of pounds of other illegal narcotics.10
- North Carolina (127 incidents)
According to the DEA, amounts of meth have increased all over the state of North Carolina. Previously, drug traffickers would cross the Mexico-U.S. border and make a pit stop in Georgia before continuing on to North Carolina. Now traffickers are bypassing Atlanta and sending bulk shipments of meth straight to North Carolina. One recent media report said the DEA office in Greensboro has experienced a 2,000 percent increase in meth seizures since fiscal year 2017.11
- California (114 incidents)
In the San Joaquin Valley, meth-related fatal overdoses surpassed those due to opioids, with opioid overdoses killing 158 Valley residents and methamphetamine overdoses killing 232 people in 2017. Kern County is one of the hardest-hit counties in the state, with 123 meth-related overdoses in 2017 alone.12 In 2018, the Bakersfield Police Department reported that meth made up about 75 percent of all drugs seized in the city except marijuana.13
- Pennsylvania (105 incidents)
Methamphetamine use in Pennsylvania is on the rise and law enforcement officials are seeing more of it statewide, according to Blair County Sheriff.14 The Secretary for Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs echoed the same concern.15 In Philadelphia, 72 people died of a meth-related overdose in 2017, which was a 112 percent increase from 2016, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Most of these overdose deaths also involved an opioid, primarily fentanyl.16
- Tennessee (102 incidents)
One agent at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the state saw more than an 80 percent reduction in meth lab seizures since 2010, but the TBI crime lab now has more forensic requests for meth. Tenessee drug agents believe that although there may be fewer meth labs around the state, there may be even more meth being sold on the streets due to its low price. Most of the state’s meth is smuggled in from Mexico in bulk quantities.17 One major DEA meth operation resulted in the seizure of 317 pounds of methamphetamine and 155 arrests in Tennessee alone.18
- Ohio (60 incidents)
Meth use is widespread in Ohio and the DEA has reported 1,283 clandestine labs in the state.19 According to a recent report, the number of opioid prescriptions in Ohio is down while methamphetamine remains widely available on the streets. The availability of meth increased in most areas in Ohio except for the Athens region and a rise in crystal meth has been reported in cities like Youngstown and Akron-Canton.20
- Florida (59 incidents)
In Florida, there were 858 methamphetamine-related deaths from January to December of 2017 with Calhoun County being the hardest hit in the state. Since 2003, the number of meth-related deaths in the state has skyrocketed from almost 100 to 858, reflecting a deadly increase in meth availability and usage in Florida.21
Get Help for Methamphetamine Addiction
Meth addiction is a major problem nationwide and if you’re addicted to meth, there is help available for you. At Briarwood Detox Center in Houston and Austin, we provide safe medical observation and monitoring for people who are going through meth withdrawal. With informed and caring treatment services, we can ensure that you are comfortable and safe while you detox from meth and move on to the next stage of your treatment.