Breaking Bad returns on Sunday for the final eight episodes of the series and I’m ready. I love Walter White, a chemistry nerd turned narcissistic drug kingpin, and his partner, former student Jesse Pinkman. While the show plays on the meth drug trade, I understand that it has been a scourge on the nation for years. Well, it looks like White’s fictional drug pushing ways are tied to a downturn in the real-life meth industry and that’s good news, unless you’re a meth dealer.
While reading up on the latest Breaking Bad news I came across this eye-catching headline on the MarketWatch website, “How ‘Breaking Bad’ is bad for meth dealers.” This definitely wasn’t your typical entertainment industry headline and it certainly isn’t a typical story.
“According to the most recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 400,000 people age 12 and over were users of methamphetamine in 2011. That is similar to the total each year from 2007 to 2010 but a drop from peak use, between 2002 and 2006, when the number of users was consistently closer to 700,000.”
There are fewer meth users and more meth dealer arrests. MarketWatch reports that in 2008, when Breaking Bad premiered, 2,241 kilograms of meth were seized in the Southwest. Last year, this number jumped to 10,137 kilograms. Of course, this is just a correlation and it is highly unlikely that the show had a direct impact on meth use, at least at a statistically significant level.
I’ve seen what meth and drug addiction can do to families and it is disheartening and so I am relieved to see data that suggests a downturn in drug use. There’s still a long way to go to solve the nation’s meth crisis, though. While the DEA works on that issue, I’ll be tuning in to AMC for the last season of Breaking Bad.