For years, methamphetamine has been considered the drug of choice for the lower class. It is cheap to make, easy to acquire and delivers the same euphoric high as more expensive “upper class” drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine.
Now that perception is changing as the drug itself has found a comfortable market among the middle class. This drug is being manufactured, used and sold by soccer moms, businessmen and others who do not give the impression of a user, much less one who is making a lifestyle out of the drug.
The manufacture and distribution of meth was first identified as a problem in Oregon in the early 1980s. It made its way through the western states in the late 1980s and 1990s with some help from Mexico where the drug originated. The low cost and easy access helped the drug spread throughout the west and into the rest of the country, finding a comfortable place in the middle class at the turn of the century.
Data from the National Drug Intelligence Center within the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) shows that methamphetamine is more available than ever before in states as far east as New Jersey. According to DOJ data, the profile of a typical meth user has evolved over time, showing the middle-class as the fastest growing user. DOJ data shows that 18-to-25 year olds are now the most likely of any age group to use the drug.
Information from the Illinois Attorney General shows meth moving across the socioeconomic strata, identifying the typical meth user as a lower- or middle-class white person in his or her twenties or thirties, living in a rural community. This profile is changing however, as the AG’s report also shows that meth use if growing in other social circles.
The middle class presents a great place for meth to hide as typical users can be women users trying to control weight, increase energy and maintain the high levels of energy needed for daily activities associated with family life. At the same time, business professionals are using for many of the same reasons. Both of these users are harder to detect as they do not fit the profile of a user, nor do they behave like typical users.
Meth is also becoming the popular “club drug” in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Its use is also rising steadily among women as it promises great benefits in the short term. In the long term, the impact on the physical body is the same no matter what gender or class the user belongs to: acute addiction, mental instability, and physical deterioration.
Perhaps the most dangerous perception circulating among users is that meth is not as dangerous as other “hard” drugs such as cocaine and will not cause long-term addiction. The National Drug Intelligence Center highlights that not only is meth a potent central nervous system stimulant, but the body also quickly builds up a tolerance, requiring more and more to achieve the same effect.
With so many misconceptions circulating, meth could present the greatest threat to users and potential users as to the threat associated with use. The reality is that meth can be devastating to the user and his or her family, no matter what their class.