Meth is making a comeback in the Dayton region: 5 things to know

Law enforcement in March seized more than 140 pounds of methamphetamine in northeast Ohio, which is believed to be the largest seizure of meth in the state's history.

Locally, special task force agents this year have busted multiple people who were in possession of hundreds of grams of suspected crystal meth, including a dealer who was staying in a hotel in Miami Twp.

The cases spotlight a growing concern among health professionals and law enforcement: That meth is back. And the drug is now cheaper and more powerful, they say.

Here’s what you need to know about meth’s resurgence.

1. How do they know meth is back in the Dayton region?

Experts and evidence. Dayton police say meth seizures have remained consistent over the years. But some addiction and treatment experts say they talk regularly with drug users, and meth right now is nearly as easy to find as heroin and fentanyl, the drugs at the heart of the opioid crisis.

Across the Midwest, more workers are testing positive for meth in employer-related drug tests. In Montgomery County, meth appeared as a factor in the cause of death statements for 50 people in 2017, more than triple the number from the prior year, according to Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger.

2. Why is meth dangerous?

Meth is a stimulant that can damage the heart. It is highly addictive and can cause anxiety, confusion, insomnia, hallucinations, paranoia, violent behavior and severe tooth decay.

Users tend to binge on the drug, going days without sleeping, and then crash, which can lead to depression, agitation and other problem behaviors. Long-term use can lead to sores over the body and emotional and cognitive problems.

3. Where does the meth in the Dayton region come from?

Presumably, much comes from Mexico.

Traditionally, meth suppliers across the country have been outlaw motorcycle gangs and numerous other independent trafficking groups, according to the DEA.

Two years ago, 15 people were busted in a multi-state drug trafficking investigation involving transporting kilos of crystal meth to southern Ohio. One of the gangs involved was the Dayton Satan's Motorcycle Club.

But most meth available in the United States is produced in Mexico and smuggled across the southern border, the DEA said.

Meth seizures at the U.S. borders and ports of entry more than tripled between fiscal years 2012 and 2017, rising to 44,065 pounds of the drug recovered, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

And meth is cheaper than it used to be, even though it’s more powerful. The DEA said the cost of meth, per gram, decreased 41 percent to $58 over the course of five years, while the purity during that time increased to 94 percent.

4. How many people use meth?

About 3.3 percent of 12th graders in the Dayton region indicated they had tried meth sometime in their lives in 2016. That was down from 4.7 percent of seniors in 2014. Nationwide, more than 14.5 million people (12 and older) have tried meth sometime in their lifetime. About 1.4 million people have used meth in the last year, according to a national survey.

5. What is ‘tweaking’?

As meth’s euphoric effects wear off, users enter a dangerous stage when they no longer have a rush or high, the DEA said. Users can be violent, delusional and display paranoid behavior. The “crash” can lead to severe depression and emotional instability.

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