Meth seizures up 281 percent as opioids steal spotlight

Despite an increasing amount of time, energy and money going toward fighting the opioid crisis currently roiling America, authorities say they're dealing with another drug that's becoming all too common after years out of the spotlight.

Methamphetamine is rolling into Minnesota once again via the state's highways--transported in cars, trucks and even buses, with police are seizing more of it every year. In 2017 alone authorities are reporting a massive 281 percent increase in seizures of the drug, which police say used to be transported in small quantities but is now being trafficked in amounts totaling up to 100 pounds in some cases.

"In 2007 or so there was a transformation in the way Mexican drug cartels manufacture," said Dr. Winkelman of Hennepin County Medical Center. "So they were able to double production without sacrificing quantity."

Across the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration is reporting low prices and high levels of purity, which suggests a large supply of the drug almost everywhere.

It's a sign of a larger problem, experts say, with drug seizures up for almost every variety of substance, including marijuana (especially concentrates), cocaine, opioids and prescription drugs.

Methamphetamine is a strong stimulant that can cause psychotic behavior and hallucinations in users, and unlike opioids there is no easy way to treat the addiction.

"We have good medications to treat opioid use disorders, but we don't have medicine that can be used to treat a methamphetamine use disorder," Dr. Winkelman said. "Death from meth [in the United States] has gone from around 1,300 people in 2008 to over 5,000 in 2015."