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2017 Drug Trends in San Antonio

In 2015 – 2016, the population of San Antonio, Texas was more than 1.3 million people. Of this total, an estimated 50% of the population consists of Hispanic and Black residents, while around 40% of the state is White, and the remaining 10% is made up of other races. While San Antonio is a culturally diverse city with many historical attractions, it does have a prevalent drug problem. Law enforcement officials, social services and researchers have been paying particular attention to the following categories of substances over the years:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Cannabis (Synthetic or non-synthetic)
  • Prescription drugs
  • MDMA
  • PCP

This article outlines the trends observed for the four main illicit substances in the above list.


Although alcohol abuse is the most predominant problem in Texas, in San Antonio, the most widespread substance abused is methamphetamine. Meth has slowly climbed the ranks of abused substance in the last few years in San Antonio. According to an annual study carried out by the Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG), meth indicators are on an uptrend which is surprising due to the introduction of a ban on pseudo-ephedrine. Meth has been the most frequently reported over the past three years by criminal investigation laboratories. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has ranked meth among the top menaces in the cities around Texas, including San Antonio.

It was also noted that the meth manufactured in neighboring Mexico has reached an extraordinary level of purity which increases its potency. There are reports by the Customs and Border Patrol showing the increased volume of meth seizures along the Texas border in both the western part (more than double) and the lower areas (almost 4 times). This increased supply has adjusted the price of the drug downwards by about 44% between 2014 and 2015.


The CEWG reported that users of heroin much younger than users in previous years. More significantly, the percentage of users who are white has also increased as compared to people of color. Data collected on heroin seizures indicate a large increase (more than three times) on the western part of the Border. This could be pointing towards the existence of a new pipeline of product from the place of origin to West Texas and New Mexico.


With the increases in usage and abuse observed from meth and heroin, cocaine indicators have accordingly decreased. The changes noted are probably due to a surge in demand for the drug in Europe (thus shifting the supply away from the US) and reported production weakening in the Andes. The quality of the drug is also in question with the introduction of a method which increases the production volume at the cost of diluting the product’s level of potency. Apparently, this lower quality coupled with the ease of availability of meth has also enticed cocaine users to transition.

Even the volume of cocaine seizures on the West Texas border has decreased by almost a third over the past 5 years, based on data provided by the Customs and Border Protection. Calls received by the Texas Poison Center Network involving the abuse and misuse of cocaine reported a steady decline of such cases over the past 6 – 8 years, from more than 1,400 calls in 2008 to around 540 in 2014. As for the profile of cocaine users, admissions to treatment programs between 2014 and 2015 show that there are two general types of users: Smokers who are generally older and most likely Black; and inhalers who are younger of age and more likely to be Hispanic. The average age of a case was 34 years old.


As for Cannabis (otherwise known as Marijuana or weed), most data over the years continue to indicate a mixed trend in relation to the number of cases. However, the information also shows significant differences in the supply and usage techniques for this substance. In the last 4 years, Customs and Border Protection reported that there has been a significant decrease (almost one-fifth in the volume of seizures from West Texas and almost a third from South Texas) in the supply of this drug from Mexico. This was due to a number of reasons, i.e. cartel disputes coupled with the strengthening of border security. As a result of this decrease in supply from Mexico, Texas, in general, has seen an increase in indoor and hydroponic growth initiatives within its cities, including San Antonio. The DEA has also observed an increasing supply of quality marijuana from Colorado, within the US itself.

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