After years of apparent decline in methamphetamine use – following the significant government intervention in the early aughts – meth is back with a vengeance. In past articles we have discussed how the powerful stimulant people are using today is even more potent than the stuff Americans smoked, snorted, or injected once upon a time. Gone are the days of clandestine trailer-park labs or making meth in the trunk of a car, no today’s meth or “Ice,” as some people refer to it, is made in super laboratories south of the border. The crystalline substance used today is significantly stronger, purer, and deadlier than anything found at the height of this country’s last drug-related public health crisis.
Between 2000 and 2016, there was more than a five-fold increase in the amount of methamphetamine confiscated by California law enforcement, according to a new documentary that is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators. “Motherhood and Meth,” directed by Mary Newman, provides an up close and personal look at meth use in Fresno as experienced by law enforcement, addiction treatment professionals, and mothers addicted to methamphetamine. In the U.S., an estimated 19,000 methamphetamine users are pregnant women.
“The power methamphetamine has on a person’s life was the most surprising part of [reporting] this story,” Mary Newman, a journalist at the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, tells The Atlantic. “I would speak with people struggling with addiction and they would have a certain self-awareness that their decisions were derailing their life, but they would also describe a feeling of complete helplessness.”
Motherhood and Meth
In many of the more rural areas of the country, meth use surpasses that of heroin. In Fresno, California, (Population: 522,053 ), almost 273 miles to the northeast of San Juan Capistrano, Ice is taking a severe toll. The drug isn’t just affecting people with stimulant use disorder; it is impacting children and the entire community. Being a border state, it’s not surprising that California sees a massive influx of meth trafficking and use. After medical marijuana was legalized in 1996, drug cartels began making pure liquid meth, according to the article. Once the liquid is transported across the border, it is then crystallized in conversion labs.
William Ruzzamenti, who appears in the documentary, is a 30-year Drug Enforcement Administration veteran; he says that there is more methamphetamine than ever, and it is significantly less expensive to buy. Ruzzamenti points out that an ounce of meth fell from nearly $968 in 2013 to around $250 in 2016. The drug is cheaper, purer, and there is a plentiful supply; all of which is fueling a new crisis in California.
“I think a lot of people associate meth with the 1990s, and this comeback has gone largely unnoticed in the shadow of the heroin and opioid epidemics,” said Newman.
You can watch the short documentary below, but please be advised that there are some graphic content and some footage of people using meth. If you are relatively new to the program, you may want to skip the film or talk to someone in your support network about watching it beforehand.
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
Stimulant Use Disorder
Please contact Celebrate Hope if you are struggling with methamphetamine or prescription stimulants. We can assist you in breaking the cycle of addiction and teach you how to navigate life in recovery. Start celebrating hope today!