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Meth Is Killing More Oklahomans Than Fentanyl

by Will Long

January 3, 2023

Updated: August 3, 2023, at 9:41 a.m.

Don’t let the news distract you from the real overdose numbers. Methamphetamine is causing more overdose deaths in Oklahoma than fentanyl, which is getting most of the attention from government leaders and the media. With all eyes on opioid-related deaths, largely from fentanyl, there are worries that increased focus on opioid addiction could misdirect resources away from the biggest current cause of overdose deaths in the state. Long gone are the days of burning double-wide meth labs in the grasslands. The drug sources have moved elsewhere, allowing meth dealing to continue in the shadows once again. It’s become an issue in the age of quietly decentralized and deeply effective international drug trade.

Shifting Sources of Meth

Laws from the early 2000s perversely incentivized the outsourcing of methamphetamine supplies to cartels and neighboring states while in-state meth lab numbers drastically fell. As barriers to purchasing pseudoephedrine in stores went up, domestic and in-state meth production decreased dramatically. In an interview with KOSU, the state’s NPR affiliate, Mark Woodward, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’s spokesperson, called Sudafed regulation through legislation a “silver bullet” for ridding the state of meth labs and production.

“What we said from the beginning, though, is this will not stop meth,” Woodward continued.

With demand for illegal opioids sky-high, meth continues to remain a cheap substitute for those with polysubstance use disorders. As time goes on, and more people begin using meth in the state, an increasing number of resources need to be directed at tackling the key issues surrounding their availability. Tackling this issue includes directing those resources toward ending the trafficking of out-of-state illicit drug supplies from cartels and other foreign interests as the state says are flooding the black market.

Public Awareness and Support Means More Treatment for Meth Addiction

One benefit of the rising prevalence of opioid deaths has been the widespread expansion of treatment centers—among which Landmark Recovery of Oklahoma City can be counted—and the increase in public support for relevant programs addressing substance use disorders. Public campaigns aimed at ending the stigma around addiction and addiction treatment have been highly effective at turning public opinion as well as shifting the public’s mindset around the origins of addiction from a choice to a disease.

For example, in 2021, Oklahoma became the first state in the US to cover opioid addiction treatment under Medicaid. In August of 2022, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Studies partnered with the University of Arizona to share resources and research targeting the opioid crisis and addiction recovery. Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse has been effective as a lifeline for many of those in the state as they continue to expand their reach throughout.

Meth’s Second Global Rise

Meth has been rising in popularity worldwide over the last decade once again, with the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) issuing definitive findings in their 2022 World Drug Report on the prevalence of export-import practices worldwide. Border seizures of meth worldwide have hit the highest numbers in history, with close to 350 tons reported as seized by international law enforcement agencies.

In Oklahoma, 2021 saw over 600 meth overdoses compared to just under 300 for those who died from a fentanyl overdose. In the wider national scene, meth deaths surged from 1.3 per 100,000 Americans to 7.3 per 100,000 Americans between 2011 and 2018.

Learn More

To learn more about how Landmark Recovery of Oklahoma City can help you fight a meth addiction, give us a call at 888-448-0302 today. Our dedicated admissions specialists can help you get the treatment you need. We’re on a mission to save a million lives in the next century right in our very own Oklahoma backyard.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.