Meth found by the Nebraska State Patrol on Aug. 29 (copy)

Nebraska State Patrol troopers found more than 17 pounds of methamphetamine in a van near Gretna in August.

South Dakota has taken much ribbing for the catchphrase it’s using for its anti-methamphetamine campaign: “Meth. We’re on it.”

The more significant concern, though, is that meth has a terrible power to destroy lives. Nebraska unfortunately is one of the Midwestern states that has seen an upsurge in meth accessibility in recent years.

The vast majority of meth now arrives in Nebraska from foreign producers or over the Internet, rather than from local meth labs.

The highly addictive drug, which can be swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked, has noticeably greater potency and purity than in the past, boosting its appeal — and its danger. The price, meanwhile, has fallen by some 71% since 2005.

Law enforcement agencies in Nebraska seized 52 pounds of meth, valued at $325,000, during the first six months of this year. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration placed its 23rd division office nationwide in Omaha in 2018, in response to the growing need.

Nebraska’s overdose rate from meth and other drugs has increased from 2.3 per 100,000 residents in 1999 to 8.1 by 2017. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have begun a multi-partner project to study rural drug abuse in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, using a five-year, $11.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The meth threat is no laughing matter.

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