Has America forgotten all about methamphetamine? The opioid crisis has been sucking up all the attention these days. Especially considering that President Donald Trump recently declared the problem a national public health emergency. But what about the dangers of crystal meth?
Here’s a sobering statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Around 8,000 people die every year from a meth overdose. Furthermore, the mortality rate stemming from the consumption of this powerful drug has continued to increase over the past decade.
The situation with meth may not be as dire as the one currently unfolding in the realm of opioids. But many jurisdictions across the nation say it is just a matter of time before meth is back on the radar.
By then, though, it may be too late to prevent the problem from spiraling out of control.
Alaska’s Methamphetamine Menace
In Alaska, methamphetamine-related deaths are now four times more frequent than they were in 2008.
A study recently published by the state Department of Health and Social Services suggests that this need for speed has also brought on a 40 percent increase in people being sent to the emergency room for incidents related to amphetamines, such as Adderall and Ritalin.
Additionally, a report entitled “Assessment of the Opioid Epidemic,” which was commissioned by a local coalition known as Change 4 the Kenai, not only shows that methamphetamine use is on the rise, it suggests that the people who are using this drug (and succumbing to its effects) are some of the same folks affected by opioids—namely heroin.
“Fifty-eight percent of positive heroin screens also showed the presence of methamphetamine,” the study reads. “This mimics data seen in most recent (Serenity House) admissions; methamphetamine use is on the rise.”
State officials, like Jay Butler, Alaska’s chief medical officer, say that not only have meth-related incidents, including deadly overdoses, remained strong in the midst of the opioid problem, “it’s made a bit of a resurgence,” reports the Alaska Dispatch News.
Meanwhile In Other States
Across the country in the state of Ohio, officials say they, too, have seen methamphetamine making a comeback—and a comeback with a vengeance at that.
A recent report from WCPO in Cincinnati indicates that a heavy percentage of overdose victims are testing positive for meth. Local law enforcement agencies and first responders claim they have encountered more meth-related incidents this year than in 2016.
In some areas, like Franklin, fire officials say they have already done nine times as many calls connected to meth overdose than they did last year.
Some state officials believe that the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for this steady increase in meth-related deaths.
Ben Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, seems to blame medications like Adderall and Ritalin. He recently told NBC affiliate WLWT that an increase in prescriptions for legal stimulants seems to be giving young people more courage to experiment with methamphetamine.
“We don’t want to be in a position where prescription stimulants are getting diverted from their proper recipients or leading to abuse or possibly leading to street drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine,” he said.
Final Hit: Will Methamphetamine Cause The Next American Drug Crisis?
They say that the United States had all the evidence it needed to see the opioid epidemic on the horizon. Reports over the past few decades have shown that a real problem with heroin and prescription painkillers was on the verge of erupting across the country. And yet no one did anything about it.
Perhaps we should consider the latest reports on methamphetamine overdoses as a warning.
The prevention of a hardcore speed epidemic in the next 10 years is necessary. The U.S government may need to start curbing the way doctors prescribe amphetamines. But since the Trump administration has yet to blame the opioid crisis on Big Pharma, we won’t hold our breath.