The main focus of Americans concerned with drug addiction in the country continues to be opioids, especially with the spike in fentanyl deaths happening. Even drugs that aren’t normally associated with opioid usage like cocaine have been in headlines due to the unlikely inclusion of fentanyl in cocaine supplies. While all this has been chewing up news and website headlines left and right, methamphetamine hospitalizations have also steadily been rising and don’t seem to show signs of slowing down.
Once considered to be a problem of the 90’s and mirrored the opioid crisis today in scope and attention, the decline of meth usage going into the mid 2000’s signaled the end of the era. When the opioid crisis began appearing to replace meth as a problem, meth usage had also been increasing. Between 2008 and 2015, meth usage jumped nearly 250 percent according to a recent study in the Journal of American Medical Association. During this same period, opioid usage only increased by about 46 percent.
It could be said that there are other factors surrounding opioid usage that has made it more of a concern today such as the ties to the pharmaceutical industry, the extreme danger of fentanyl overdose deaths due to its potency, the development and distribution of overdose and addiction prevention medications and its relationship to heroin usage. But during all of this media coverage, silently, more than 10,000 of the over 70,000 overdose deaths were from meth-related overdoses.
Methamphetamine addiction also causes extreme harm to its users if they don’t end up in the emergency room from overuse.
One doctor interviewed about the problem recently told the Pittsburg Morning Sun, “…you see people as young as their 30’s with congestive heart failure as if they were in their 70’s.” The side effects of the drug cause rapid heart rate and high blood pressure causing physical problems and psychological problems include anxiety, extreme irritability and hostility. Rapid tooth decay and weight loss round out the issues an addict is also has to deal with from prolonged use.
Complicating matters is the fact that there aren’t any similar medications for treating meth addiction as there are for opioids. Nor are there any legislation plans targeting the helping of addicts and preventing overdoses like there are for opioids like heroin and fentanyl. In some states, like Texas and Colorado, meth overdose deaths have actually surpassed overdose deaths from even opioids.
Addiction research Jane Maxwell, also interviewed by The Morning Sun stated, “[The problem of meth addiction] is just totally off the radar. Nobody is paying attention.”
Treatment requires behavioral and psychological therapy because of the lack of medication to assist with withdrawal and recovery. If you know someone who’s suffering, call Philadelphia Counseling Center at 610-298-1999. Pennsylvania detox options and drug rehab centers in PA like the Philadelphia Counseling Center are staffed with trained professionals who personalize the program around the individual and also offer intensive outpatient rehab programs in Philly.