Meth Treatment Admissions Decrease in Mexico and U.S.

Posted on August 10th, 2010
Posted in Methamphetamines

A new study, one of the first to examine the geographical patterns of drug distribution and purity across a country, found that voluntary admissions to treatment facilities for methamphetamine abuse within the coterminous United States and Mexico had decreased in recent years. Although the other illicit substances examined did not reveal a similar decline (including cocaine and heroin), researchers are attributing the decline in methamphetamine admissions to the Mexican government’s effort to combat the manufacture of methamphetamine within the country.

Researcher James Cunningham, a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholar and social epidemiologist at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, led the study that was published in the August issue of the scientific journal Addiction. The study’s findings suggest that drug treatment facilities in Mexico and neighboring Texas have experienced a drop in methamphetamine abuse admissions due an accumulation of drug control policies implemented by the Mexican government during the past decade.

Mexico remains the U.S.’s number one supplier of illicit drugs due to illegal cross-border drug importation or international drug trafficking of substances like methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. The demand for illicit substances in the U.S. remains high, keeping Mexican drug trading a multi-million dollar business for drug cartels and other criminal organizations. Because of this, the study found that the highest purities of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine between 1994 and 2004 existed closest to the U.S.-Mexican border, according to the System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence (STRIDE), an authorized database containing information on drug seizures.

By 2005, however, the Mexican government restricted the country’s importation of pseudoephedrine, a primary chemical used in the production of methamphetamine. According to their study, the researchers find that the 2005 bans on drug importation led to a 12% drop in Mexico’s voluntary treatment admissions for methamphetamine abuse. Admissions in Texas’ treatment facilities demonstrate a similar decline since 2005.

In 2007, Mexican authorities closed a predominant commercial chemical company that was believed to be importing more than 60 tons of pseudoephedrine into the country. The leader of the drug smuggling headquarters fled from Mexico but was later apprehended in the U.S. Following the company closure, Mexican treatment admissions for methamphetamine abuse dropped by 56%, with Texas showing a similar sharp decline in admissions as well.

By 2008, Mexico had also restricted the importation of ephedrine, another primary chemical used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. This restriction made Mexico the first country in North America to ban all importation of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. The researchers’ study concluded its research following the 2008 bans, so the impact of these specific policies on regional drug consumption was not fully investigated. However, the researchers did note that Mexican admissions to treatment facilities were demonstrating a decline in the first few months following the institution of these bans. Interestingly, treatment admissions for other illicit substances, including alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, did not show any such decline parallel to methamphetamine during the study period.

The researchers claim that their study is the first to show evidence of another country’s chemical control policies’ effectiveness of on both domestic and international public health.

Sources: Addiction Journal, Drug control efforts in Mexico reduce methamphetamine treatment admissions in Mexico and US, August 5, 2010

University of Arizona News, Jean Spinelli, Mexico Drug Control Efforts Reduce Meth Treatment Admissions, August 2, 2010

Medical News Today, Methamphetamine Treatment Admissions In Mexico And US Reduced By Drug Control Efforts In Mexico, August 7, 2010

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