Report: Methamphetamine is Texas’ largest drug threat

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Methamphetamine remains the largest drug threat in Texas, causing 715 deaths in 2017, according to a substance abuse trend report published by social work professor Jane Maxwell last week.

“Meth has been a problem in the United States for a number of years,” Maxwell said. “Ten years ago, (the U.S.) started limiting access to cold medicines … When this happened the Mexican drug dealers had access to a chemical so they could make meth … As a result we’re seeing more come in, more deaths, more hospital admissions.”

The report shows cannabis is the second largest drug threat in Texas, which Maxwell said can be attributed to the trafficking of the substance from states that have legalized it.

“The biggest problem with cannabis is there’s less and less of the home-grown weed,” Maxwell said. “But we’re seeing more and more trafficking of the more potent cannabis from Colorado and states that have legalized it. So it’s kind of changing the picture.”

Maxwell’s report also showed alcohol abuse had the highest number of reported cases entering into recovery programs, with 17,778 admissions.

Christine Duvauchelle, College of Pharmacy professor, said society normalizes alcoholism.

“Think about our culture, particularly Austin and our demographics — it really encourages or normalizes alcoholism,” Duvauchelle said. “Our downtown environment is really conducive to alcoholism.”

Duvauchelle said drug and alcohol addictions develop from biological needs for pleasure.

“There’s not just drug addiction, there’s all kinds of addictions,” Duvauchelle. “You’re wired to enjoy things, things that are biologically relevant — eating, sex — it is imperative as biological beings that we participate in the kind of activities that perpetuate our species.”

Sierra Castedo-Rodgers, director of the UT Center for Students in Recovery, said people ages 18–25 meet the criteria for substance use disorders at higher rates than other age groups.

“This group in general traditionally has always had a little bit more of a struggle, and the thing that has been really highlighting that is we’re starting to be more open about talking about recovery,” Castedo-Rodgers said.

People battling addiction need a family support system and support from a recovery group, Castedo-Rodgers said.

“Connecting them to a community of people in recovery, in addition to having support at home with their loved ones and with their friends from a non-recovery program, all of that stuff is really important,” Castedo-Rodgers said.