news releases

2006.05.12 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

UNO Researchers Issue New Report on Methamphetamine

Omaha - Researchers from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) report today that the supply of methamphetamine in Nebraska should gradually decline, but that the State's need for expanded substance abuse treatment will remain for years to come.  The Methamphetamine Treatment Study's Final Report to the Community Corrections Council states that Nebraska must develop effective substance abuse treatment throughout the state.  

The projected drop in methamphetamine can be attributed to tighter controls on the sale and distribution of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in methamphetamine, said Hank Robinson, director of the UNO Juvenile Justice Institute.

Laws restricting the sale of over-the-counter medications have forced meth cooks to go outside Nebraska to acquire sufficient quantities of ingredients.  As the federal government and more states tighten retail restrictions and drug manufacturers move to medications that do not contain pseudoephedrine, the legitimate demand for it diminishes.  If other countries, fighting methamphetamine epidemics of their own, follow the U.S. lead, the worldwide production of pseudoephedrine will drop.      

"The impact to methamphetamine trafficking could be significant over the next few years," Robinson said.  "If the U.S. and international community can choke off the large-scale production of pseudoephedrine and law enforcement and prosecutors maintain their aggressive interdiction and prosecution strategies, we will win the war against methamphetamine."

Robinson is careful to add, though, "That does not mean we have won the war against addiction."

UNO's research team estimates that approximately 20,000 Nebraskans abuse or are dependent on methamphetamine.  When meth users numbers are combined with the estimated number of alcoholics and other drug addicts, Nebraska requires substance abuse treatment services for more than 100,000 people.  Research cited in the report indicates that meth users frequently succeed in abstaining from methamphetamine use, but increase their reliance on alcohol and marijuana.  The report insists that to sustain a life-time of successful recovery, people will need years of treatment and support services. 

Drug traffickers may also try to exploit the vacuum left by the reduction in meth supplies by shifting to alternative drugs.  Nebraska's "drug pipeline" will not likely go unused, Robinson said.  "One of the worst legacies of the meth epidemic is the degree to which it pushed drug distribution networks into every city and county in the state."

The absence of the meth is not the absence of a problem.  "An addict needs treatment," Robinson said.  "Removing drugs is not treatment." Every county in Nebraska needs some sort of substance abuse treatment available if the goal is to decrease substance abuse problems, he said.  However, Nebraska does not have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and other mental health and substance abuse professionals to meet the demand. 

"Our first report stressed the importance and the great need for more community-based treatment," he said.  "Community-based treatment lets addicts and their families recover in a supportive and realistic environment." The Final Report highlights just how fractured treatment options can be and outlines programs and services that can be implemented statewide to address the need for substance abuse treatment within Nebraska. 

The report recommends that Nebraska develop ways to attract qualified substance abuse and mental health professionals to the state.  The report also encourages Nebraska to explore the ways in which technology used to provide treatment in underserved areas.

The research team has added a section the Final Report on the truths and myths of methamphetamine abuse to help educate policy makers and the public. 

"Many half-truths and complete untruths about methamphetamine use are accepted as fact," Robinson said.  "We want Nebraskans to know that people can and do recover from meth addiction.  Investment in community-based, non-residential treatment is well spent."

Both reports were commissioned by the Nebraska Legislature through the state's Community Corrections Council.  The initial report, "Moving Past the Era of Good Intentions: Methamphetamine Treatment Study," came out in December of 2005.

The latest full report is available online at the Crime Commission's website, http://www.ncc.state.ne.us/documents/stats_report_and_research.htm.

The report is also available here as a pdf -- Full final report.

The executive summary and introduction to the report is available here as a pdf -- Exec. summary.

This pdf file is the report's Fact or Myth section -- Fact of Myth.

For more information, call (402) 554-3502.

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