Report: 'Breaking Bad' Responsible for Rise in Crystal Meth Usage

Report: 'Breaking Bad' Responsible for Rise in Crystal Meth Usage

According to an author on celebrity and media culture, the popular AMC crime drama Breaking Bad is making people curious about crystal meth.

Breaking Bad illustrates the life of Walter White, a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher who produces and sells methamphetamine to ensure his family’s financial security before he dies. The series debuted in January, 2008 and ended in September, 2013.

The European Monitoring Center for Drug Addiction reported that methamphetamine is more prevalent than ever in various parts of Europe. Within the past year, Border Patrol agents in Britain have watched the surge of smugglers rise by 400 percent.

Germany has also experienced a rise in crystal meth usage by 51 percent, and government data from January revealed that drug seizures made by law enforcement within the last five years have quadrupled.

Professor Ellis Cashmore from Staffordshire University warns that the shocking rise in usage of the lethal drug in the United Kingdom and Europe could have something to do with the show. He said the plot alone makes the drug appealing. 

“Although the show does not go out to glamorize the drug, its very inclusion promotes interest in that substance,” he told theTelegraph. “The fact it is a central premise to almost the entire series would serve to boost this interest for people who perhaps had not encountered it before.”

17,000 people from the UK reportedly used crystal meth in 2013, and the number of “meth labs” seems to be increasing, although most of the drugs are believed to be smuggled in. 

“I’m not surprised, following the success of Breaking Bad, that we have news of a surge in the use of methamphetamine, Cashmore explained. “The fact millions of people have watched the show and been entertained by it almost instantly glamorizes its subject matter, whether deliberate or not.”

Prague is reportedly the headquarters for the crystal meth industry and is said to supply an estimated 95 percent of the batches consumed in Europe. One episode of the series reportedly focuses on a strategic operation to transport the drug from New Mexico to the Czech Republic. 

However, police from the Czech Republic assert there are “booming markets” and that Vietnamese gangs actually run the drug circuit in Prague, which is much more sophisticated than we see on television. 

“Even if a TV show, like Breaking Bad, portrays drugs in a negative aspect and showing its most destructive side, it will still appeal to somebody,” Cashmore said.