According to Dr. Jane Maxwell, leading research professor at the University of Texas, opioids are not the biggest drug problem Texas faces.
Dr. Maxwell has been studying drugs and drug use trends in Texas for more than 40 years and according to her research, 31 percent of all Harris County arrests involving drugs involved cannabis and 25 percent involved methamphetamine. Arrests involving heroin were number seven on the list.
To accurately determine the most dangerous drugs in Houston and Texas, Dr. Maxwell takes into account the number of poison control center calls, treatment admissions, arrests, and deaths. In considering the above factors, she determined methamphetamine and heroin to be the most dangerous substances in Texas.
The data cited by Dr. Maxwell is from the DEA National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), which collects results from drug chemistry analyses conducted by state, local and federal forensic labs nationwide. The NFLIS is a trusted source of information that aids in monitoring and understanding drug abuse and drug trafficking trends in the U.S.
According to Dr. Maxwell, most of the meth in Texas comes from Mexico and is made with a chemical that has been illegal in the United States since the early 1980s. This methamphetamine is much more potent, has a stronger effect, and is very popular with certain categories of people, such as men who engage in sexual activities with other men. As a result, we have experienced a shift in the population of people who are being infected with HIV.
Dangers of Methamphetamine Abuse
Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant that produces a sense of euphoria. Its effects on the central nervous system are strong and long-lasting, making it a frequently abused drug. Immediate effects of methamphetamine abuse include intense euphoria, increased activity, increased body temperature and respiration, rapid heartbeat, and decreased appetite.
Long-term abuse of methamphetamine can cause psychotic behavior, extreme mood swings, anxiety, confusion, and violent behavior. In addition, chronic users of methamphetamine often become addicted due to the strong euphoric effects of the drug and the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
Methamphetamine abuse can increase the risk of HIV/AIDS primarily due to the re-use and sharing of contaminated needles. Its effects also severely inhibit judgment and decision-making, leading to more instances of unprotected sex.
Opioids Continue to Be a Problem in Texas
Although methamphetamine is a big concern, heroin and opioid abuse continue to be a major concern in Texas as well. Dr. Maxwell suggests heroin abuse is just less of an issue here due to the fact that most heroin in Texas is black tar heroin, and to use it, you have to dilute it in water over heat first and then inject it. Conversely, in the Northeast, heroin is a white or tan powder. This makes it easier for users to mix in fentanyl powder and create a much more potent drug.