The Methamphetamine Menace
“Meth makes you a monster. I’m not going to sugar coat it.” These are the thoughts of someone who knows. A former meth addict, the woman behind these words fought her way to recovery and to tell her story. In this sense, she is one of the lucky ones. She managed to break free from the grips of this fast growing black market menace.
Meth Epidemic Rising
Let’s lay it all out to gain an understanding of the substance and situation. Methamphetamine. This chemical acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system. For that reason, people who are obese or diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may receive a prescription for it. Those are the legitimate, yet second-line uses in medical circles. Then there are others. Meth, as it’s known commonly in lay terms, is a recreational drug. It lifts moods and may create a sense of comfort. Oh, one more thing, meth is highly addictive, emphasis on “highly.”
The speaker in the opening paragraph explained how meth almost destroyed her life. It was readily accessible in her area in West Virginia and the top pick of her drug dealer best friends. It wasn’t until she hit rock bottom sitting in a prison cell that she had an epiphany. Fight the meth fight now or lose opportunities for a productive life. But that scenario is not limited to one state or section of the country. Meth has exploded here, there, and everywhere.
As evidence, we submit item number. It is the title of an article on a government website, which reads: “Feds warn of rising meth use as drug cartels move into the Carolinas.” According to this news report, federal authorities see a “spike” in meth use. They link it to the opioid crisis. Even though they pinpoint one location in the headline, they quickly expand the geographical reach in the main content to “across the country.” That’s the scope of recent meth drug busts and overdose deaths, which they state describes a “stark picture of an increase in the drug’s proliferation.”
Meth Seizures on the Rise in the South
Here’s a follow-up question and answer. What is greatest challenge to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today? Demand for meth, which agents are trying to track through two main trafficking hubs on the east coast, namely Atlanta and Charlotte. The DEA notes that drug cartels incorporate this product within loads of freight on tractor trailers.
This portrait of meth does not discount the dire opioid epidemic. However, according to a DEA agent: “In the way of seizures, methamphetamines are No. 1 in South Carolina as a whole, followed by heroin spiked with fentanyl and then followed by opioids.” However, this pecking order varies by location.
Another question occurs: Why, as noted above, do authorities link the rise in meth to the opioid epidemic? That’s because half of meth users also are addicted to opioids. Authorities speculate that the spike in prescription opioids over the last decade opened the floodgates to illicit heroin, fentanyl, and meth. It is, in a sense, a chain reaction; or it’s a drug play into non-opioids.
Fourth Wave of Drug Epidemic
It seems only recently we began to speak of fentanyl as the third wave in the drug crisis. Now comes meth. As a senior CDC official explains: “We’ve seen three waves – we’re very concerned about the fourth wave and getting ahead of it, and that’s methamphetamine.” Worse yet, medication assisted treatment (MAT) has shown promise for treating opioid addiction. No such MAT solution is available for meth.
Then, how prevalent are meth overdoses? The Rand Corporation reports deaths from fentanyl rose tenfold in the last six years. However, meth overdoses outpaced those of fentanyl in 12 states. Within that group, loss of human life from meth supersedes that of all opioids in Hawaii and Oklahoma.
In total numbers, Rehabs.com reports that some 10,000 people are dying from meth overdoses annually. It links this increase to three main causes. More people are using this substance more often, the strength of which has risen on the street. The user population is getting older and less able to sustain the effects of meth on their body. And cross pollination with fentanyl is affecting meth sold by dealers, accidentally or not.
Then there’s the abundance of meth on the market. A recent news item on Kentucky.com underscores this factor. Its title reads: “’It’s ruining everybody we know.’ One Kentucky town’s battle with meth’s resurgence.” A person from Pikeville who has used meth twice says: “There are so many people that’s on meth in this town right now. I have never seen something take over so quick in my life.” He adds: “You can find it anywhere, buddy.”
Finding Treatment for Meth Addiction
How was this individual’s experience with meth? It made them “crazier than hell.” Specifically what happened? “You start seeing [stuff], hallucinating and stuff, you freak out in your mind, like I thought I was in hell. I seen the floor open up, fire, flames come around me, and I was cussin’ at the devil”
That sounds like the details of why, going back to the beginning, “Meth makes you a monster.”
Read More from Sherry M. Adler:
- Judgment Day for J&J
- Alumni Spotlight: He Played the Tape Through and Opted to Survive
Photos Courtesy of Shutterstock.