China has undergone a hard-fought battle with methamphetamine. The country’s national consumption rate is comparable to that of the United States and it exports the majority of the world’s meth and meth-making chemicals. In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of the crystal meth consumed in North America originates in China. Meth pill police raids have also increased by 1’500 percent between 2008 and 2012.
Over 180 people were arrested in December of 2013, when Chinese authorities seized over three tons of crystal meth worth $230 million in the village of Boshe. Another 22 tons of raw materials used to manufacture the drug were also seized from the rows of houses in the village. Reportedly a fifth of all of the village’s residents were involved in this meth operation. Residents of the village alleged that the toxic fumes from the meth cooking operations had dramatically polluted the soil to the point where crops simply would not grow.
In the summer of 2012, numerous busts were reported, all of which originated from China. Mexican authorities seized 900 tons of chemicals used to manufacture meth that were shipped from China. In another case, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted 5,700 pounds of methylamine chloride, attempting to enter the country via LAX Airport, which was worth $40 million. Both of these occurred within months of each other. Another Chinese shipment of methamphetamine chemicals worth approximately $10 billion was seized by Belize authorities that same year.
China is a large exporter of ephedrine, which is a primary component of methamphetamine. It is a controlled substance and is highly regulated in United States, so most clandestine labs across the country will employ the use of pseudoephedrine, a common cold medication as a substitute. In larger “mega labs” like in Mexico and parts of Asia, many will use ephedrine.
In recent reports, China’s number of registered drug users has tripled in the last decade. Liu Yuejin, head of police’s Narcotics Control Bureau, stated that “the actual number of drug addicts is estimated at 13 million … and about half are suspected of taking methamphetamine.” These estimates imply that China’s overall drug use rate is lower than that of the United States. The rate of crystal meth abuse covers 0.5 percent of the population — more than double that of the United States, with 0.2 percent of the population being crystal meth abusers.
Methamphetamine distribution has spread throughout nearby countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand. Jeremy Douglas, a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regional representative for Southeast Asia, notes that methamphetamine use “originated as a drug that was taken by poor people, traditionally workers that migrated into youth culture over a decade ago. More recently, that has evolved into a growing prosperous youth culture.”
Asia has shown to be the world’s largest marketplace for crystal meth. Roughly one third of Asia’s $90 billion illegal economy comes from drugs. China’s production and distribution of the drug accounted for 45 percent of Asia’s total methamphetamine seizures in 2012. China’s longstanding problem with crystal meth has shown similar trends when compared to the United States, having spread largely through its rural regions. Over the years, meth has found its way into the more prominent areas of the country.
Methamphetamine addiction brings million of people to a dark place with seemingly no escape taking with them their physical and often their mental health as well. It is important addicts know that there is help available to combat the consequences of meth use as soon as possible and overcome their addiction to the substance. With intensive treatment and support, many who have struggled with drug addiction have found relief from their condition.
Sovereign Health is among the leading drug addiction treatment centers in the country, offering various inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for patients struggling with drug addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of treatment, please contact us at 866-754-3385. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer