San Diego County methamphetamine-related deaths have almost doubled over the last five years to an average of one every 23 hours.
The San Diego Union-Tribune noted Tuesday that a record number of residents in the county died from meth-related causes last year.
As the regional Methamphetamine Strike Force has reported, there were 377 meth-related deaths in 2016, up 21 percent from the prior year and up a stunning 78 percent over the last five years.
According to the 2017 San Diego County Meth Report Card:
- There were an average of 36 emergency room visits per due to methamphetamines in 2015, up from 28 per day in 2014;
- 56 percent of arrested adults tested positive for methamphetamine in 2016, up from 49 percent in 2015 and 36 percent five year earlier;
- 14 percent of arrested juveniles tested positive for methamphetamine, up from 8 percent in 2015 and 4 percent five years ago;
- Meth arrests for dealing and possession totaled 8,428 in 2016, up from 6,849 in 2015 and 5150 five years ago;
- The price of meth fell to $250-$450 in 2016, down from $360-$600 per ounce in 2015;
- Meth seizures at the Mexican border were 8,706 kilos in 2016, up from 8,103 kilos in 2015 and 3,585 kilos five years ago.
California is only rated as having the 23rd highest drug use rate, but San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob stated recently, according to County News Center: “Meth is taking a terrible toll on more and more San Diego families, and we must step up our efforts to fight this killer and connect more people with treatment programs.”
The Methamphetamine Strike Force suggested six actions to decrease meth use:
- Increase Recognition and Visibility of the Meth Problem;
- Disrupt the Meth Market at All Levels;
- Increase Health Screening;
- Get More People with Use Problems –and their Family Members– into Treatment;
- Expand Crime-Free Multi-Housing Partnerships to Promote Sustainable Crime-Free Neighborhoods Where Children and Families Live; and
- Maintain High Quality Prevention Work on Alcohol and Marijuana as The First Line of Defense for The Vast Majority of Youth Who Never Use Meth.
According to County News Center, San Diego County Interim District Attorney Summer Stephan told meth researchers that the wildly addictive and deadly drug is largely manufactured by Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, and then smuggled across the border. The DA added that juvenile meth-related arrests are increasing, because the cartel increasingly uses young people as smugglers.
Stephan complimented law enforcement’s success at interdicting more drugs, and commended her staff for prosecuting a record high 6,024 cases last year.
But she warned, “Sending addicts to jail or prison without addressing their addiction problems does not solve the drug problem in our community.”