Addiction, Health Alerts

Why is Meth Use on the Rise in Boston?

Methamphetamine has always been an issue in more rural states, but recently Massachusetts has seen an influx of meth overdoses in the Boston area. In a recent study from the National Emerging Threats Initiative (NETI), most of the meth sold in the United States is produced in Mexico, then shipped through suppliers that are also dealing in cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin.

It was once thought that the arrest of “Chapo” Guzman in 2016 would create a substantial decline in methamphetamine manufacturing. However, the emergence of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the re-organization of the Sinaloa Cartel increased the problem within the last 2 years.

“New initiates of methamphetamine use (people who had not previously used methamphetamines) increased by 47% from 133,000 in 2010 to 195,000 in 2017. At the same time, HIDTA seizures of methamphetamine increased from 256% from 8,021kg in 2011 to 28,558 kg in 2017.”

The above graph reflects the change in methamphetamine/ice seizures, in terms of amount seized (in kilograms) and the total number of incidents (reported in Kg, dosage units and liter forms) within all HIDTA counties from 2011

Individuals usually start with heroin that is being cut with meth, and then move on to straight meth. Meth users don’t feel as sick when they are coming down from the high and meth is cheaper than heroin. However, despite meth being an easier option for it’s users, it is not for treatment options within hospitals and clinics.

Meth overdoses have increased across the United States, and while we may not see the full impact of the influx of meth in Boston right now, it’ll show up in a few years. The meth issue is compounding the opioid epidemic, because while patients addicted to fentanyl or heroin are usually prescribed a medication to curb cravings, patients have been trying to use meth while in treatment for their opioid addiction to help cope. It appears the opioid epidemic has set itself on a larger scale, with cocaine and methamphetamines and is becoming more of a drug epidemic.


Martha Bebinger (2018). Meth Use Is Rising In Boston, Intensifying The Opioid Crisis.

National Emerging Threats Initiative (2018). Emergening Threats Report 2018: Status and Factors Affecting the United States.

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