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Meth Surges in US in Shadow of Opioid Epidemic

Image: Meth Surges in US in Shadow of Opioid Epidemic

Methamphetamine also known as crystal meth. (Daniel Kaesler/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 06:07 AM

Meth is surging in the U.S. again in the shadow of the opioid epidemic and may not be getting the attention it deserves, say law enforcement officials.

Ohio, one of the main battlegrounds in the opioid epidemic fight, also finds itself fighting the methamphetamine resurgence, authorities told NBC News on Wednesday. Texas, Montana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Iowa, and South Dakota also are seeing new spikes in meth use.

"All of a sudden, it's everywhere again," said Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who commissioned a study of meth in his state. It estimated that meth use there jumped by at least 250 percent since 2011 and could overtake heroin.

"We are entering another full-blown epidemic with meth," Schimel told NBC News.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamine is a stimulant drug usually used as a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks and is chemically similar to amphetamine. The institute said other common names for the drug include chalk, crank, crystal, ice, meth, and speed.

The nonprofit news website Oklahoma Watch reported in March that meth was the biggest contributor to drug overdose deaths in the state in 2016. The 952 people who died from drug overdoses in Oklahoma that year was a state record.

Meth was connected in 328 of the deaths, up sharply from 271 in 2015 and topping deaths from the much publicized opioids hydrocodone and oxycodone.

"They're concurrently problematic," Jessica Hawkins, prevention director for the Oklahoma Mental Health Department, told Oklahoma Watch about the state's meth and opioid problems. "What we don't want to do is switch attention from another serious epidemic, which is the opioid epidemic we’re in, and move attention away from that."

A new report by the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program said that deaths connected to meth outdistanced that of all other drugs 2015, the latest dates available, reported The Oregonian. The report, which blames the increase there on Mexican drug traffickers, said that meth also was involved in the most drug arrests in Oregon in 2016, with 15,308 arrests, doubling from 2009.

"We're seeing it pour across the border in bigger quantities," Mark Conover, the deputy U.S. Attorney in Southern California, told NBC News, where meth border seizures in San Diego County jumped from 3,585 kilograms in 2012 to 8,706 kilograms in 2016. "It used to be that loads of 20, 30, 40 pounds were big for us. Now we have 200-pound loads."

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Meth is surging in the U.S. again in the shadow of the opioid epidemic and may not be getting the attention it deserves, say law enforcement officials.
meth, surges, opioid epidemic
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2017-07-06
Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 06:07 AM
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