Drug Use in Austin, TX

Despite the clean air in the Clean Air City, Austin, TX struggles with a growing drug use problem.
Nina Fenton
Published on

From the outside, Austin, Texas seems pretty idealistic with its 300 days of sunshine each year, beautiful views of the Colorado River and great music scene. It also doesn’t hurt to garner the number 21 spot on the list of safest cities in the state, which is pretty impressive when you consider that there are 1,216 others to compete against and the pretty hefty population of 877,210. However, there is a darker side to Austin that most of us don’t know about. A darker side overflowing with drug use and abuse that is seeping into the lives of many city residents and threatening to overshadow all else.

Health Street provides Drug Testing and DNA and Paternity Testing in Austin, TX

Methamphetamine Growing in Popularity

Austin is considered to be one of many High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) in Texas, which means that a large portion of the city’s drugs are brought in from Mexico through cartels and other drug enterprises willing to take such a big risk in order to get their supply where the demand is. This is certainly the case when it comes to the methamphetamine that is funneled into the city as law enforcement is seeing the drug seep into the city at an alarming rate. A fact that is evident by the more than 1,650 pounds of methamphetamine that the Laredo customs district is expecting to seize  this fiscal year, which is 60% more than the year prior.

Cartels producing meth in Mexico were essentially forced to revert back to the old school lab method after the country’s government placed a ban upon the two most common ingredients needed during the cooking process: ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Clearly, the ban proved to be ineffective as yet another way around the roadblock was found and meth began funneling back into Texas allowing the cycle to continue.

“The Mexicans have moved to an old recipe that existed in the ’70’s and ’80’s that is called P2P,” said Jane C. Maxwell, a senior research scientist at the Addiction Research Institute at the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin. “It uses precursors that have been banned in the U.S since the 1980’s, but the Mexicans have taken up making it. They are making it in mass quantities, and they are damn good chemists.”

The meth that is brought into Austin is far more potent than it has been in years passed, too. This increase in potency has a lot to do with it being frequently being brought into the city in liquid form since it is easier to smuggle undetected. The liquid is then converted into “ice” before it is distributed. Methamphetamines effects can be felt much more intensely and has been known to cause significantly worse side effects when used in this pure form.

The Heroin Trends

Heroin use in Austin is noticeably on the rise, according to the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work. A rise in the use of heroin, invariably results in the amount that is available for users to get their hands on, which also tends to increase the drug dealers and cartels from Mexico looking to capitalize on the addictions of other to line their wallets.

Texas Department of State Health Services reports heroin is more easily available on the streets of Austin. This high-quality heroin is said to be a cinnamon-colored powder which has resulted in many cases of overdose in the city. Authorities in the city are fiercely fighting to eradicate the drug from the streets, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so users and dealers are continuously trying to be one step ahead of authorities at all times to avoid getting caught.

It has been found that earlier there were equal quantities of tar and powder heroin available in the city and tar the version of heroin was of a higher quality. However, this has now changed. Today, Austin, TX is inundated with power heroin, which users are snorting rather than injecting themselves. In fact, it has been seen the young adults have a misconception about snorting heroin. They fallaciously believe they will not get addicted to this illicit drug if they snort it. Unfortunately, those who snort heroin seem to transition to taking this drug intravenously sooner or later.

Overdosing on Heroin

Studies show that users are young, which isn’t too surprising since heroin is a cheap and easy substitute for those addicted to prescription opiates. Most users begin their downward spiral in their early to mid-twenties and carry on until they receive treatment or succumb to their addictions.

According to Community Epidemiology Work Group, the age of people dying due to heroin overdose is decreasing. The average age in 2005 was about 41 years, but in 2013 it had decreased to 36 years. Luckily, there appears to be a silver lining in the horizon. With more centers and facilities offering drug testing in Austin, TX, more young adults are seeking heroin addiction treatment. In 2005, 41% heroin addicts under the age of 30 were seeking de-addiction treatment, but this number increased to 52% in 2013.

Other Illegal Drugs on the Streets of Austin

While there is an increase in heroin use and availability in Austin, TX, it is not the only drug available in the city. There is a market for other drugs, as well. These include:

  • Cocaine is more commonly used by the upper echelons of society and often mixed with heroin and taken intravenously or snorted. However, its use has decreased significantly in Austin largely due to the high price tag and noticeably weaker “high” thanks to the added fillers used by dealers to extend their supply.
  • Hallucinogens are ubiquitously used in nightclubs and typically used by young adults with other substances at the same time. The ecstasy available in downtown nightclubs of Austin are supplied and controlled by Asian gangs.
  • Marijuana is coming from the Mexican side of the border and the use of this drug encompasses all cultures, in particular young adults. The supply of marijuana into Austin seems to be on a decreased, which is said to be as a result of the poor quality product available.
  • Inhalants such as paint thinner, spray paint, and gasoline are used by street addicts to get high by teenagers more than any other age group. The items used to get high are easy to purchase and hide, making it harder for their use to be detected.

As further evidence that the drug problem in Austin is serious, there are even a bevy of websites providing those interested in obtaining and using drugs in the city with insight into what drugs are popular, who’s using them, what to do during an encounter with authorities and even ways to procure them.

Hope for Austin, TX

Drug abuse of any type is worrying as addiction comes in different shapes and sizes, often without a predictable rhyme or reason. The cloud of worry hanging over Austin is further compounded by the continued flow of meth, heroin and a bevy of other drugs into the city that is controlled by Hispanic and Asian gangs. The city’s drug users are not alone, though. As local authorities, lawmakers and healthcare organizations tirelessly work to aid those seeking a way out of an endless black hole of addiction.

It is vital for Austin’s residents to have access to affordable and well equipped treatment facilities that will offer extensive services to addicts during all phases of recovery. The ability to access different varieties of rehabilitation services is invaluable as no two addicts are the same and a “one size fits all” approach may not yield the best results. In an effort to cover as much of the addiction spectrum as possible, it’s necessary for the city’s treatment facilities to explore territory beyond conventional detox methods with de-addiction programs for fast, painless results.

Recovery doesn’t stop after detox, though. In fact, recovery never really ends for an addict. This means that a solid foundation of support needs to be established and nurtured so the addict feels a reliable safety net when transitioning into the often scary and overwhelming world as a sober person. A support system can be fostered through an addiction sponsor, qualified therapist and health care providers who are all well versed in the ways of recovery.

Addicts often struggle with returning to some of the more mundane aspects of life after living under the thumb of their disease for so long, but the struggle can diminished with help. The ability to transition into sober living housing has proven to be an essential to successful recovery, especially when assistance with finding employment and mental and physical health check-ins are added to the mix. The rates of relapse and rearrest are significantly less when recovering addicts have resources, support and have to be held accountable for their choices through random drug testing.

If you are in need of a drug test and are located in a nearby city in Texas, such as San Antonio, TX, stop by to one of our many Health Street testing locations.


A bit about me... I was born on a hot August day in a tiny hospital in Fulda a small city in rural Hesse, Germany where my father was stationed with the United States Army. I entered this world much the same way I have spent the last 31 years, stubborn, Read More


A bit about me... I was born on a hot August day in a tiny hospital in Fulda a small city in rural Hesse, Germany where my father was stationed with the United States Army. I entered this world much the same way I have spent the last 31 years, stubborn, Read More


Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.


Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.