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Meth Impact in Counties

Nearly 60% of county officials reported that methamphetamine is the largest drug problem in their county according to a new survey released by the National Association of Counties (NACo).  In a news release following the survey, NACo President and Lake County, Ill. Board Member Angelo D. Kyle noted, “County governments across America are on the front lines in responding to the methamphetamine crisis.  For counties, Meth abuse causes legal, medical, environmental and social problems.”

Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C. conducted the surveys. Results from 500 counties in 45 states comprise the survey, “The Criminal Effect of Meth on Communities.” Here is a summary of the survey results.

The Criminal Effect of Meth on Communities

Meth is a growing problem that is now national in scope.
Of the 500 responding law enforcement agencies, 87% report increases in Meth related arrests starting three years ago.

Meth is the leading drug-related local law enforcement problem in the country.
58% of counties in this survey said that methamphetamine was their largest drug problem.  Meth was followed by cocaine (19%), marijuana (17%) or heroin (3%) as the number one drug problem.

Meth related arrests represent a high proportion of crimes requiring incarceration.
50% of the counties estimated that 1 in 5 of their current jail inmates were housed because of Meth related crimes. The problem is even worse in the other half of the counties surveyed.  Seventeen percent of the counties report that more than half of their populations are incarcerated because of Meth related crimes.

Other crimes are increasing as a result of Meth.
70% of the responding officials say that robberies or burglaries have increased because of Meth use, while 62% report increases in domestic violence. In addition, simple assaults (53%) and identity thefts (27%) have also increased.

A second survey focused on the impact Meth has on children and the social services system. These results are based on responses from 303 counties from all 13 states where child welfare activities are performed at the county level.  The major findings include:

Meth is a major cause of child abuse and neglect:
40% of all the child welfare officials in the survey report increased out of home placements because of Meth in the last year.  During the past five years, 71% of the responding counties in California reported an increase in out of home placements because of Meth and 70% of Colorado counties reported an increase.  More than 69% of counties in Minnesota reported a growth in out of home placements because of Meth during the last year, as did 54% of the responding counties in North Dakota.

 Meth hurts children and families over the long-term.
County officials were asked if the particular nature of the Meth user/parent has increased the difficulty of family reunification.  59% said yes. 

 A complete analysis of both surveys is available online.  You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the report; download a free Adobe Acrobat Reader  here.

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2000 Prairie View Prevention, Inc.