The overdose death outbreak across America is most notably in connection to the opioid epidemic. Law enforcement and health officials all over the country continue to combat the impact of heroin addiction and prescription opioid abuse, and this issue is a consistent talking point. But opioids aren’t the only drugs that authorities are noticing for an increase with rates of use and overdose. Several state agencies in the U.S. have recently reported a spike in overdose deaths related to methamphetamine.
What is Meth/Crystal Meth?
Meth as an illicit recreational drug that goes by several street names, such as:
This substance usually comes in the form of a crystalline white powder, although other colors have been observed including brown, yellow-gray, even pink or blue. It is often described as odorless and bitter-tasting.
Crystal Meth is a version of methamphetamine that can be made with simple ingredients from drug stores. It comes in clear crystals or chunks resembling ice and is most commonly smoked. This form of the drug has other street names such as:
Both forms of methamphetamine, and even amphetamine prescription stimulant drugs, are incredibly addictive and extremely dangerous substances.
New Crystal Meth Stats
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new statistics from 2015 (the most recent year for which federal data is available) that show:
- In 2014 there were 3,700 deaths from methamphetamine overdoses
- More than 4,500 individuals died in 2015 from methamphetamine
- That is an increase of 30%
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), methamphetamine use jumped from 3% in 2010 to 4% in 2015. That may not seem like much, but consider that in comparison to heroin use, which only rose from 1% to 2% during this same time period.
Meth has become rampant in significant portions of the Midwest and in the South. For example, in Oklahoma:
- Methamphetamine was involved in more than 300 overdose deaths in 2016
- It surpassed death rates for both Oxycodone and Hydrocodone… COMBINED!
This huge upsurge in meth use has also prompted more people to seek treatment for meth addiction. For example, in the year 2015 more than 11,000 patients were admitted for treatment in Minnesota, which is nearly twice as many who sought help for meth addiction 10 years before. Other areas that had no previous history with serious meth use rates have also seen a spike in people seeking treatment for meth addiction.
At the end of the day, whether it is legal amphetamine or illicit methamphetamine, these chemicals are known to be dangerous and addictive. Even prescription drugs containing amphetamines are a risk factor. Depending on how the drug is used, issues related to these powerful stimulants may vary. Amphetamines that are crushed or injected will present different complications.
Treating Methamphetamine Addiction
Confronting the risks and adverse effects of meth addiction effectively and safely means utilizing a medical detox and comprehensive treatment program. The physical and psychological impact leads to a number of side-effects and withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms usually include:
- Incoherent speech
- Lack of motivation
- Vivid dreams
- Suicidal thoughts
The psychological and emotional effects are said to be the most difficult to overcome, while the cravings for the drug are exceptionally strong.
Healthcare officials say they are prepared to help patients during this recent expansion of meth use. However, the director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA, Kimberly Johnson, believes the current need for treatment may far exceed available resources.
The main strategy for treating meth addiction remains medical detox, followed by inpatient treatment and outpatient therapy. The abuse of amphetamines and methamphetamine, such as crystal meth, is quite serious and therefore amphetamine and methamphetamine abuse treatment is crucial to helping those who struggle with meth addiction.