Facebook Post Claiming Evansville as the ‘Meth Capital’ is Seriously Out of Date
A resurgence of old data is causing an uproar within my circle of Facebook friends. There is an article being shared from The Recovery Village - who, according to their website, are a Florida-based rehab facility founded in 2013. I have seen this article shared numerous times by my Facebook friends:
Obviously, I clicked on the post. The first thing I noticed was the lack of a publication date to their article. I saw nowhere where the date of writing or original publication was shared. I read through the article and when I got to the part about Evansville being the "Meth Capital of the US" and Indiana being the "Meth Capital of the World." Clearly these are worrisome claims for anyone living in and around Evansville, At one point that information was accurate and true, and by "at one point" I mean five-six years ago. The article from The Recovery Village, while omitting the original date of publication or writing, does at the very least cite their information as having come from RealClearPolitics.com -This is where things start to fall apart as far as the truth to the Facebook post circulating. The cited source, RealClearPolitics, actually cites their own source - a chart from the Missouri State Highway Patrol outlining the number of meth busts, by state, in 2013! So the original source information for this article being shared is actually 5 years, and almost 5 months old (as of today, 4/29/19.) I do remember the exorbitant amount of meth busts taking place at that time. You literally could not turn on the news or open Facebook without seeing reports of yet another meth lab found or busted. With that said, let's take a look at some more recent data:
Remember the chart from the Missouri State Highway Patrol from 2013? According to it, in 2013 there were 1,797 meth related incidents. Using the same source, but looking at data from 2015, Indiana was the state with the highest (1,276) meth related incidents. Again, using the same source, but looking at the exact same data from 2017, Michigan had the most in the country with 511 meth related incidents. Indiana had 306 the same year, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. If we want to dig a little deeper, according to the official State of Indiana Website, they claim that there were 387 seizures in 2017 and of those, Vanderburgh county was responsible for only 14 of those seizures while Delaware, Vigo, Starke & Bartholomew counties were responsible for 38, 37, 21 & 18 seizures, respectively.
A few more things to pay attention to: the "Meth Task Force" launched here in Evansville in 2012. The EPD was hyper-focused on eradicating this drug from our city so it is entirely possible that the numbers for Indiana, and Evansville itself, was so high not because we actually had more than any other state, but it is entirely possibly that we ranked so high because our local law enforcement was working so hard to get meth off our streets? In 2015, Evansville Mayor, Lloyd Winnecke, addressed the meth issue in Evansville saying that the number of busts was down 50% over 2014.
It is also worth noting that this is not the first time that this outdated information has gone viral in our area. According to a Facebook post from the Evansville Police Department, they were squashing this same viral post in September, 2018.
I think the really important thing to remember here is that before you share something on Facebook:
a) always read the article and not just the headline before you share it
b) Check to see if it is a reliable news source
c) check for a date of publication
d) review the cited sources to see where the data is actually coming from.
In this case, the headline being shared appears to be at least 4-5 years old and is citing date that is nearly 6 years old. So before you start jumping on the "Evansville's the Meth Capital of the World" train, maybe take a second to realize just because it's on Facebook does not always mean it is accurate, factual or true.