The madness of meth’s comeback in Tennessee

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Bag of crystal methamphetamine, undated DEA photo (AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s powerful. It’s pleasurable. And people can’t put it down.

“It’s a big-league stimulant. It really revs up the entire body,” says Dr. Peter Martin, as he describes the effects of methamphetamine. Martin is the director of the Addiction Center at the Psychiatric Center at Vanderbilt.

Meth is making a big-time comeback in Tennessee. Last year, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported methamphetamine eclipsed marijuana as the most-submitted drug to its crime lab. Meth is keeping the pace in 2020.

“Drug addiction continues to be a major issue in Tennessee, and I believe this sharp increase in methamphetamine has a connection to our state’s ongoing opioid epidemic,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said earlier this year.

Marie Williams, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, says there has been a ten-percent increase in meth abuse from people who use the department’s treatment programs between July 2019 to June of this year.

“There’s a sense and feeling of euphoria that a lot of times drugs will deliver to individuals. And once you start using a drug to get that feeling and it crosses over that, you’re not able to control what you’re doing. You get into addiction,” Williams said.

Earlier this year, the TBI revealed the state has seen a sharp decline in the number of meth labs over the past decade, indicating an influx in imported methamphetamine. “The drug trade continues to evolve,” Tommy Farmer, the TBI Special Agent in Charge of the Tennessee Dangerous Drugs Task Force, told News 2.

Quantities of meth seized at the border through August are already double the amount that U.S. border agents came across in all the fiscal year of 2019.

News 2 is investigating the effect of meth’s comeback with special reports all day Thursday. Join us in every newscast for “Tennessee Meth Wars,” as we dig deeper into the drug’s evolving impact on individuals, communities and law enforcement.

State agencies encourage those struggling with substance abuse to take advantage of free and confidential resources available through the Tennessee REDLINE. More information can be found online or by calling or texting 1-800-889-9789.


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