Despite a decrease in the mid-2000s, methamphetamine use in Chicago has been trending upward since at least 2014. There are many factors that may account for the increase, the most significant of which include the source of the drug and the availability of the chemicals used to produce it.
The source of the drug also affects its administration and its appearance. These, too, have been subject to fluctuating trends.
Where does meth come from?
There are two main sources of methamphetamine in the United States. There are clandestine manufacturers who operate domestic laboratories that produce it. Otherwise, its manufacture typically takes place in Mexico, then drug trafficking organizations distribute it throughout U.S. cities.
The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act took effect in 2005. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, this law sought to restrict access to the chemicals needed to produce methamphetamine by requiring retailers to keep medications containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter. Similar efforts by law enforcement led to the widespread shutdown of domestic meth labs.
For a while, this led to decreases in meth use. However, according to Footprints to Recovery, people in Chicago who use and distribute meth are now turning to sources based in Mexico.
How is Mexican meth different from that produced domestically?
Mexican methamphetamine derives from different precursor chemicals. It usually appears as a white powdery substance. By contrast, meth produced by clandestine labs in the United States usually takes crystal form.
The change in the source of the methamphetamine may also alter how people take it. The typical means of using crystal meth is by smoking it. However, reports show that intravenous injection of methamphetamine has become more common than smoking. This may be because the powdered form is more readily available and is easier to mix into a powder for injection.