Methamphetamine use among Blacks has surged nearly tenfold, data shows

More than one-fifth of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. now involve methamphetamines, and Blacks' use of it has skyrocketed.

Loading the player...

New research shows that methamphetamine use is surging among African Americans. 

Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, co-authored a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry, published on Wednesday, that found methamphetamine use increased tenfold among Black individuals. Risk factors included lower socioeconomic status factors, criminal justice involvement and comorbidities.

A detective holds crystal meth confiscated alongside firearms as part of a drug raid. According to new research, methamphetamine use is surging among African Americans. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Street names for it include meth, blue, ice and crystal. It can be smoked or injected, and injected meth use has doubled nationwide, according to the study. 

Dr. Stephen Taylor told NPR the nation’s focus on the opioid crisis — which has primarily affected white, rural communities — has taken attention and resources from the sharp rise in methamphetamine use among communities of color. 

“Those communities have been confronting a massive increase in addictions to and overdose deaths from methamphetamine for a long time,” he said.

Methamphetamine use has also increased among Native American populations. Winnie White Tail, who runs a treatment clinic for the Arapaho and Cheyenne community in Clinton, Oklahoma, says use of the drug is “deeply entrenched across the community, not just in Native communities. It’s readily available. It’s easy to get,” per NPR.

More than one-fifth of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. now involve methamphetamines. Deaths from the drug have increased because much of the supply is contaminated with fentanyl. 

There is no medical treatment for methamphetamine addiction. Experts contend that more high-quality treatment and counseling services are desperately needed. 

Last week, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy urged Congress to approve $10.7 billion to fund drug treatment. Regina LaBelle, acting director of the office, wrote, “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones to the overdose epidemic.” 

As previously reported, legendary Digital Underground rapper and producer Shock G died this summer of an accidental drug overdose of fentanyl, ethanol (alcohol) and methamphetamine. 

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!

Loading the player...