Methamphetamine use is once again on the rise in America. While law enforcement officers and government agencies continue to combat opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, an influx of meth, mostly from Mexico, is causing overdoses and increasing levels of crime across the nation.
Meth Resurgence in the United States
While law enforcement officers across the United States have worked to combat the opioid crisis that is taking lives across the country, meth is creeping back to the forefront of the drug war. Almost a decade ago, meth-related deaths were at an all-time high. New laws across state legislatures limited public access to pseudoephedrine, an allergy medication, used by mobile meth labs to develop the drug. This led to a decline in meth use which was, unfortunately, only temporary.
Meth in America is nearing a crisis point. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that meth use increased significantly among 18 to 25 year olds. Prevalence in this age group grew from 0.8 percent in 2016 to 1.1 percent in 2017.
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s 2017 threat assessment states that:
- 45% of responding agencies report meth availability is high in their communities.
- Meth levels averaged 95.9% purity and 90.2% potency in 2016.
- The price per pure gram decreased by 41% between January 2011 and September 2016.
- Of 23 meth exhibits analyzed by the DEA,
- 9 contained fentanyl
- 10 contained fentanyl and heroin
- 1 contained fentanyl and cocaine, and
- 2 contained fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.
- The number of meth-primary admissions to public rehab facilities increased from 107,242 in 2011 to 135,264 in 2014 – and the numbers are likely to climb.
Where Meth Has Hit Hardest
The regions with the highest prevalence of meth use are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Dakota. Authorities are concerned about the dangerous meth cocktails, especially meth cut with fentanyl – an often lethal combination.
After harsh crackdowns on meth labs and homemade meth materials, imported meth began to fill the gap in the market. These meth superlabs discovered a method of making meth without the restricted pseudoephedrine, allowing for a purer and more dangerous drug to hit American communities in larger quantities than ever before.
Common Meth Symptoms and Side Effects
Meth is a dangerous, highly addictive drug, and its use can have long-term consequences on a person’s mental and physical health. Certain physical and behavioral symptoms indicate meth use. The physical symptoms of meth use include:
- Heavy sweating
- Dilated pupils
- A strong ammonia odor
- Sudden weight loss
- Dental decay
- Sores on the skin from picking
- Burn marks on the fingers and mouth
Meth use also drastically affects a person’s behavior. Some common behavioral symptoms are:
- Staying awake for days and crashing
- Impulsiveness and risky behavior
- Significant paranoia, including concerns of being watched
- Angry outbursts and irritability
- Drastic mood swings
- Obsessive cleaning
- Taking items apart for no reason
Meth Cocktail Dangers
Much of the meth coming from outside the United States is cut with other drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine. Meth cocktails are extremely dangerous and have a high chance of causing fatalities.
Meth is a stimulant, while heroin is a sedative. Combining the two can make it difficult to tell if an overdose is happening. For example, heroin slows breathing while meth accelerates it, which can make a person feel like they’re breathing normally when they are close to death. In addition, combining meth with opiates can lead to stroke, heart failure, increased blood pressure, and sudden heart arrhythmia.
Like heroin, fentanyl is an opioid, but it’s much more powerful. According to the NIDA, nearly half of opioid overdose deaths involved fentanyl. In 2016, fentanyl killed 19,000 Americans. This synthetic drug is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and nearly impossible to detect.
The most terrifying aspect of fentanyl is that it only takes a miniscule amount to kill a person. When combined with meth, its dangers only increase. Sometimes, it only takes a quarter of a milligram to cause an overdose. Thousands of communities throughout the United States and Canada are dealing with the effects of this drug in other opioids – and now it’s being found in methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine Dangers: Withdrawal and Long-Term Use
Long-term meth use can have a significant impact on a person’s physical appearance and mental condition. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, long-term meth use can lead to:
- Damage to brain functions for emotion and memory
- An increased tolerance and risk for overdose
- Significant anxiety
- Mood swings
- Weight loss
- Skin sores
- Tooth decay and loss
- Violent behavior
- Paranoia and delusions
- Impotence and sexual dysfunction
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Reduced motor speed
- Impaired verbal learning abilities
Withdrawal symptoms begin within the first 24 hours of quitting meth, and they could last up to 20 days. A few symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Excessive sleepiness
- Increased appetite
- Dry mouth
Some individuals may experience hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. A professional treatment center can help alleviate some of the mental and physical impacts of the withdrawal process.
Seek Help for Meth Addiction Today
Quitting meth without support is extremely difficult, but help is available. People seeking recovery from meth addiction should seek a professional detox program to get the physical and emotional support they need for a lasting recovery. Visiting a rehabilitation center that specializes in gentle-tapered detox and long-term treatment can increase positive outcomes for addictions.
Bright Future Recovery is a family-oriented drug and alcohol detox center in Northern California. We focus on helping our clients learn long-term strategies for recovery success, including rebuilding relationships with family members and safely managing withdrawal symptoms.
Get help today. Contact Bright Future Recovery to learn more about enrolling in our detox program.