Meth is Number One Drug of Choice

Prescription drugs and new synthetic drugs are getting all the headlines, but in San Diego County, meth continues to be the number one drug of choice among adults entering County-funded treatment programs.


Statistics show that of the nearly 12,200 people who sought treatment for a drug addiction, 34 percent came in due to problems with meth.

Approximately 10,300 were adults and about 1,900 were 18 years of age and under.

“People’s lives are still being turned upside down because of this deadly and addictive drug,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, County Board of Supervisors.

Fifteen years ago, Jacob spearheaded the creation of the Methamphetamine Strike Force, a coalition of about 70 agencies and organizations that have worked tirelessly to eradicate meth from local communities.

“Our fight against meth must continue,” added Jacob.

Meth was the primary drug of choice for 38 percent of adults entering treatment during the 2010-2011 fiscal year, followed by alcohol (26%) and heroin (15%).

For teenagers and adolescents, marijuana was the number one drug of choice (79%). Alcohol was a distant second (9%), followed by meth at six percent.

Among the individuals entering County-funded treatment programs, 48 percent were white, 32 percent were Mexican/Latino, 11 percent were Black/African-American, 3 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, 1 percent Native American and 5 percent other.

“Meth continues to take a toll on people’s physical and mental wellbeing,” said Nick Macchione, Director of the County’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), which is spearheading the Live Well, San Diego! initiative, the County’s 10-year plan to improve the health of residents and communities in the region.

The initiative includes preventing alcohol and other drug abuse, as well as promoting awareness of emerging drug problems.

“Substance abuse is a chronic, relapsing disease. The good news is that it is treatable,” Macchione stated.

Typically, about one third of people who enter treatment complete their program, one third drop out, and one third make some progress toward recovery.

The County funds a number of in-patient and outpatient treatment programs that are helping people lead drug-free and healthy lives.

People suffering from meth and other substance addiction are encouraged to seek help by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at (800) 479-3339 or 2-1-1.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact