While America continues to grapple with the opioid crisis, another drug has continued to sweep across West Virginia: methamphetamine. Meth has remained popular through the vehicle of various criminal drug groups, as well as independent providers across the state. Even as West Virginia battles its own opioid epidemic, it also struggles to manage meth-related overdoses and meth lab problems statewide.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported last December that meth-related overdoses in the state had reached an all-time high. Using data from the Health Statistics Center, the Gazette-Mail goes on to share that overdose deaths have increased by 500 percent in only four years. Why the sudden, drastic increase? Fentanyl, a powerful drug often laced into meth, has been the biggest culprit. Many users are unaware that fentanyl has been laced into the drugs they buy. The Gazette-Mail continues by sharing that law enforcement had been seizing meth from Mexican drug cartels, which is later distributed throughout Appalachia. While there has yet to be a solution to this statewide problem, the fear is that this deadly mix will continue to claim lives.

For those facing meth-related charges, the penalties alone can place a damper on one’s reputation and overall quality of life. The website for the West Virginia Legislature outlines the state’s methamphetamine laws, which have little sympathy for any drug-related activity. Affiliation with a Schedule I or II controlled substance — including manufacturing, distributing, delivering or possessing — could result in a felony and time behind bars. Of course, penalties become more severe as drug involvement escalates to more dangerous substances. As for meth, the penalties range depending on the amount of the drug and the type of activity. Today’s current struggle in West Virginia reflects a clear issue with methamphetamine and the ways it has become more dangerous over recent years.