Meth on the Rise
The Old/New Drug of Choice: Methamphetamine is on the Rise
How it's affecting our communities
Back in the ’90s, Methamphetamine, aka “Meth”, was the big drug abuse problem in the US When the government restricted access to pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient used in OTC decongestants, but also a key ingredient in Meth, use declined.
Recently, officials began sounding the alarm that Meth is back--in a big way. In Warren County, for example, Meth seizures increased 142% from 2017 to 2018 while heroin and fentanyl saw an 80% decrease.
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Meth is a stimulant which causes users to be hyper-alert. That compares to drugs such as opioids, heroin and fentanyl which are depressants and tend to calm users down. The “new” Meth is coming from Mexico and at only $5 a hit, it’s immensely affordable.
Why Meth is increasing—it’s cheaper, not quite as deadly and fewer headlines than opioids--is probably not as important as the major consequences it has for users and the communities they live in.
What Are the Signs?
Physical signs of Meth use include heavy sweating, dilated pupils, body odor that smells like ammonia and burn marks on fingers and mouth. Often a person’s physical appearance deteriorates, especially from skin and/or hair picking, called “tweaking”, weight loss and severe dental decay, referred to as “Meth mouth.”
Behavioral changes include insomnia, angry and or violent outbursts, mood swings, paranoia and repeating actions obsessively. Paraphernalia associated with Meth use are pipes, needles, crumpled foil, spoons, straws, and broken light bulbs.
How is Meth Impacting My Community?
The majority of US counties are reporting that Meth is currently their most serious drug problem. A few of the consequence of Meth abuse are surges in criminal behavior, increased costs and rising issues of child endangerment--
· The increase of Meth-related crime has been overwhelming for local police and, since Meth users are more likely to be violent, it’s more dangerous for officers to respond. Criminal justice systems are becoming over-taxed and over-crowded with these abusive offenders.
· Meth use is putting an increasing burden on local health systems. First responders and healthcare workers, emergency rooms and hospitals struggle to keep up with Meth-related cases which include increases in HIV, Hep C and A due to unsafe sexual practices and re-use of Meth paraphernalia.
· Children are the losers when parents are users. Meth users will do anything to be able to pay for more Meth, including not buying food or clothing for their children. Meth-fed hallucinations lead to neglect or worse. Schools are reporting increases in truancy and obvious signs of mistreatment.
What Can We Do to Help Prevent Meth Use?
Meth is clearly a significant threat to communities and it’s up to everyone to come together to foster a climate of ZERO TOLERANCE for Meth in their communities.
Presentations co-delivered by teams of law enforcement and substance abuse treatment professionals who speak to parent groups, schools, workplaces, healthcare organizations and civic organizations raise awareness of the dangers of Meth abuse and how to prevent it.
In addition to education programs, hard-hitting media campaigns that dramatically communicate the risks of Meth use have been shown to produce positive results.
While most understand that early intervention is key, many don’t realize that, particularly for at-risk segments of their communities, education programs for parents should start as early as the prenatal stage, advancing through infancy and pre-school before hitting elementary and high schools. Waiting until the teenage years is too late.
Every day, people are faced with the decision to try an addictive substance and, on the surface, the benefits may seem to outweigh the risk. Communities need to provide the facts so that the right decision is made when the temptation to try arises.
Where Can We Get Help?
Contact us today and we’ll connect you with the information or help you need!