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Drug Seizure on the Rise During the Pandemic

by Landmark Recovery

April 30, 2021
police during drug seizure

Seizure of Meth on the Rise During The Pandemic

You might imagine drug seizure laws were becoming more lenient concerning marijuana, but a new study shines a different light on this.

The analysis published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence shows an increase in seizures of marijuana during the pandemic of 2020 across five key regions in the United States.

More disturbingly, though, meth confiscations also increased. While many view marijuana as a more socially acceptable and more benign substance, the same cannot be said for methamphetamine.

The quantity of both meth and marijuana seized peaked in August 2020. At this point, seizure rates were higher for these two drugs than at any stage pre-pandemic.

What does this data mean, though?

Drug Seizure Rates in Relation to Drug Use and Availability

Researchers involved in this study point out that drug seizure rates may only roughly correlate to drug use and drug availability. We need more research to flesh out the relationship between drug use and the pandemic.

And, the need for this research is pressing, with drug use such a crucial public health issue. When substance-dependent individuals abruptly stop using drugs, this can increase the chance of adverse withdrawal symptoms, while simultaneously increasing the chance of relapse. When people switch from one substance to another, this can increase the chance of overdose, also a pressing public health concern.

Beyond this, we need more data to determine whether the patterns evident in the regions studied also applies to other regions in the US.

Drug Seizure During The Pandemic

Researchers analyzed drug seizure figures from March 2019 to September 2020 across the following five regions:

  • Chicago
  • New Mexico
  • North Florida
  • Ohio
  • Washington, D.C./Baltimore

The focus was on seizures of the following five drugs:

  1. Cocaine
  2. Fentanyl
  3. Heroin
  4. Marijuana
  5. Meth

Patterns of seizures of cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl remained unchanged by the pandemic. Having said that, investigators drew attention to a steady rise in seizures of fentanyl that seemed to occur independently of the pandemic.

At the start of the pandemic, reported seizures of both marijuana and meth decreased. This is perhaps due to the impact of lockdowns on the availability of drugs, as well as an unwillingness on the part of suppliers to extend credit. Once the effects of coronavirus and the consequences of sanctions further developed, seizures of both drugs rose. Peaking in August 2020 at rates higher than pre-COVID, the uptick was significant.

Not only this, but the amount of marijuana seized also increased from April to September of last year.

The study lead emphasized that a downswing in drug seizures could point to a decrease in drug availability, but it could also indicate a dip in law enforcement as the pandemic took resources in other directions.

Equally, the authors stated that it’s unclear whether increased seizures of meth post-COVID were due to greater availability of meth, or whether law enforcement agencies had been cracking down on seizures once redeployed.

Meth and Fentanyl Seizures Increase in a Disturbing Trend

According to DEA data, seizures of meth in New York increased by 214%. The same source shows that seizures of fentanyl in 2020 increased by 59% compared to the previous year. The DEA’s New York division alone seized over $170 million in assets from drug traffickers, along with over $600 million of illegal drugs.

With so much attention focused on the pandemic, corollaries like this are only now becoming apparent.

The DEA points to two issues here:

  • A disturbing increase in street-level drug use
  • Fentanyl and meth are the top contributors to overdose deaths in the United States

While meth may have grabbed the headlines for more than a decade, fentanyl is rapidly outflanking it. Fentanyl is a potentially deadly synthetic opioid more than 50 times stronger than morphine.

Not only is fentanyl a menace in its own right, but it’s also frequently mixed with cocaine, heroin, meth, and sometimes even marijuana.

Just like meth, it’s Mexican superlabs producing the fentanyl flooding American streets. This is then pushed across the porous border where it continues to wreak havoc at a growing rate.

What Comes Next

Are you using meth and at the point of trying to quit? If so, doing so alone and unaided at home is inadvisable. You could easily experience withdrawal symptoms so unpleasant you end up using meth to alleviate them.

Instead, reach out to the friendly team at Landmark Recovery. We can help you with the appropriate evidence-based and medication-assisted treatment. Depending on your circumstances and the severity of your addiction, we offer both inpatient and outpatient programs. To get things started and reclaim your old life, call us today at 888-448-0302.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.