Methamphetamine Abuse in West Texas

A recent report from the Houston Chronicle highlighted a trend of increasing drug trafficking, methamphetamine abuse, and drug-related crimes over the last several years, citing a correlation with oil drilling in West Texas (specifically the Permian Basin).1 The Permian Basin reaches from south of Lubbock to south of Midland and Odessa and is a large oil and natural gas-producing area in the United States.2

According to the Houston Chronicle report, a drug-testing company in Odessa called CRS Diagnostic Service found that the number of local workers who tested positive for methamphetamine in the first half of 2017 was more than three times higher than the number of those who tested positive in the first half of 2009, which was right before a major boom in production of oil and natural gas from shale formations, often referred to as the “shale revolution.”3

CleenFleet also reported that more than 1,000 people working or applying for jobs in the oil-producing industry failed urine-based drug tests, which is double the number during the same time last year. Even hair testing rates tripled from 2009 to 2010 and positive test results for methamphetamine increased five times in that same time period.4

Methamphetamine abuse and other forms of substance abuse are not only personally harmful to workers and their families, but it also has potent effects on the oil industry itself, including:

  • More injuries on the job
  • An increase in drug-related crime
  • A lack of qualified and sober applicants

Oil companies in West Texas are beginning to adopt stricter drug testing protocol, but many oil workers still find ways to beat the tests and continue using drugs on the job. Stricter drug testing and firing for drug abuse could also result in a severe lack of workers, which would be detrimental in an industry that relies on productivity and manpower.

Why the Increase of Dangerous Substance Abuse?

The numbers clearly show that methamphetamine abuse is a major problem in the oil industry, but why? It has long been known that industrial workers face higher risks of developing substance abuse problems, but what makes oilfield workers more prone to abusing drugs like meth and cocaine?

There are several reasons why many oilfield workers fall prey to a life of addiction.5

  1. Long shifts – Most employees in the oil industry work very long hours. Some semi-drivers even complete trips of 36 to 48 consecutive hours without rest, consuming dangerous drug cocktails and stimulants just to stay awake and alert.1
  2. Grueling working conditions – Oil field workers may also work in some tough conditions, living on-site in primitive camping conditions or overcrowded group homes for several weeks at a time.6
  3. Good pay – Drill-site consultants can make up to $1,500 a day and individuals with little or no college education can earn six-figure incomes working long work weeks.6 This type of money can easily fuel a lifestyle of substance abuse.
  4. Isolation – Many oilfield workers’ lives are reduced to a rigorous schedule consisting of working, eating, and sleeping, with little to no family time. Drugs and alcohol may ease depression and anxiety for those seeking a way to cope.
  5. Easy access to drugs – According to the DEA, Mexican cartels are the biggest methamphetamine suppliers in West Texas.1 It’s easy to get a variety of substances in this area, especially methamphetamine and cocaine.

Breaking the Cycle of Meth Addiction: How Drug Detox and Rehab Can Help

In the case of many oilfield workers, substance abuse may start as a means to an end—a way to survive those long, grueling hours, and cope with the stressors of the job. But often times that substance abuse festers and turns into a crippling, full-blown addiction.

Overcoming addiction to methamphetamine or any other addictive substance will require a dedicated effort and commitment to long-term addiction treatment. The first step for most people is drug detox, which treats the physical and emotional symptoms of drug withdrawal and helps the person ease into a sober state.

Before detox treatment begins, a treatment team will determine the person’s physical and psychological needs with a comprehensive assessment. The results of this assessment will be used to create a personalized drug detox program that will provide the best opportunity for that person to achieve long-term sobriety.

During detox, a team of nurses and doctors will treat the physical symptoms of drug withdrawal to provide a comfortable and safe drug detox experience. At our detox center, staff members are on-site 24/7 to provide the most comprehensive, high-quality care possible and ensure that each client has an effective and comfortable detox experience.

After drug detox is complete, clients will have the option to continue their addiction treatment with long-term inpatient or outpatient drug rehab. This is the second phase of addiction treatment, which addresses the psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction.

Physical, psychological, and behavioral treatment are all absolutely necessary to fully overcome an addiction to methamphetamine, cocaine, or another addictive substance. Although detoxing from these drugs on your own at home may be tempting, it can also be very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

You or a loved one may currently be working in the oil industry and suffering from methamphetamine addiction as a result, but it’s not too late for you to make a change. The caring and professional staff members at Hill Country Detox can help you rebuild your life without drugs and provide personal recommendations for ongoing treatment so you can get sober and stay sober.

Call Hill Country Detox today for more information about our detox programs and make your way down to the Texas Hill Country, a beautiful and peaceful place to begin your sobriety journey.



  1. http://www.chron.com/business/article/Texas-oil-fields-fuel-meth-boom-11306617.php
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian_Basin_(North_America)
  3. https://www.cfr.org/report/shale-gas-and-tight-oil-boom
  4. https://www.cleanfleet.org/2017/09/as-drilling-increases-increased-substance-abuse/
  5. https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2017-09-07/meth-coke-and-oil-a-drug-boom-in-the-texas-shale-patch
  6. http://www.chron.com/business/article/High-paying-oil-field-jobs-come-at-a-price-3465378.php
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