Putting Methamphetamine in Context

Stacy L. Osnick, Institute for Law and Justice
Irene Doran, Institute for Law and Justice

Methamphetamine (meth) has taken many communities by storm in recent years--especially those communities in the Western part of the US. As a result of its unique effects on the body, its dangerous chemical makeup, and its highly volatile production methods, meth makes for a very newsworthy topic. In fact, stories about child neglect, chemical explosions, and extreme violent behavior are not uncommon. As part of a larger project conducted for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), the Institute for Law and Justice directed a content analysis of articles from a major local newspaper (The Salt Lake Tribune). The analysis covers a six year period (1995-2000) and included more than 500 articles. The purpose of the analysis is to document emergent themes, analyze them according to their contextual meaning, and compare and contrast them with other meth-related themes and relevant issues of the time. A longitudinal analysis of the articles is also discussed. Where relevant, these themes are analyzed alongside available quantitative data (e.g., police arrest data, etc.) to provide a more complete picture of the effect that methamphetamine has had on Salt Lake City and its immediate surrounding communities.

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Updated 05/20/2006