Fighting Meth: America’s Other Drug Problem

Meth Epidemic

We’ve discussed America’s opioid epidemic before – an estimated 11.4 million people have misused these highly addictive medications. Unfortunately, the well-funded fight against prescription painkillers has overshadowed another American drug problem. Meth use is on the rise, but the government has yet to provide adequate funding to address this new public health concern.


What is Meth?

Methamphetamine is a powerful, extremely addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system, particularly dopamine receptors, to produce a euphoric effect. Dopamine is involved in the body’s movement, motivation, and reward system, meaning that drug use is robustly self-reinforcing. Meth is a synthetic drug, which means that rather than being naturally derived – like opiates – it is created in a lab. The resulting substance may be taken by smoking, swallowing, snorting, and injecting, and often is consumed in a “binge and crash” pattern (taking repeated doses quickly).

Meth carries many health risks, including hepatitis C infection, dangerously high blood pressure, psychosis, stroke, violent behavior, organ failure, and even death. Without proper treatment, addiction to methamphetamine is very difficult to overcome.


U.S. Meth Use Climbs

Recently, government officials have noted a marked increase in the rates of meth use in the United States. Two key contributing factors have caused this spike. When the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (the DEA) analyzed purity, price, and potency data, they found that cheaper, purer forms of meth have begun to surface in the drug trade. Additionally, due to legislation and changing rates of prescription, opioids have gradually become more expensive and more difficult to obtain. Together, these undercurrents have created a larger market for meth.

This increased availability has caused a ripple of negative outcomes for those using meth. Hospitalizations involving amphetamines are rising every day, increasing by 245% between 2008 and 2015. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving meth tripled, increasing from 1,887 to 6,762. One study found that the cost of amphetamine-related hospitalizations had skyrocketed from $436 million in 2003 to $2.2 billion in 2015. In spite of these numbers, the bulk of federal funding completely ignores meth addiction altogether.


Funds Reserved for Combating the Opioid Epidemic

The federal government has provided over $2.4 billion in state grants to address the opioid epidemic since 2017. However, drug use is seldom a single-substance problem, meaning that most patients have consumed more than just opioids. They are often used in combination with other drugs. This becomes an issue when federal funds are earmarked – meaning they can only be used on creating solutions for opioid concerns.

While it’s admirable that the government seeks to solve the opioid crisis, there are other drugs that take lives every day. By limiting funds to one class of drug, other addictions – particularly methamphetamine use – will continue to ravage lives. Moving forward, it would be beneficial for the government to provide general funding for addiction research, as well as additional money for mental health care and treatment.


Treating Meth Use

The first step to resolving a meth addiction is residential treatment. This approach provides the most intensive level of care for patients with substance use disorders. With a highly structured environment and clinical supervision, even the most established addiction can be addressed.

Meth addiction treatment should involve both individual and group therapy sessions for best results. Ideally, this experience should be fully immersive and incorporate the 12-step approach to recovery. This allows participants to address past trauma, destructive habits, and damaging beliefs head-on. By confronting these issues, one can make room for new, healthy coping mechanisms and a substance-free lifestyle. With expert guidance and peer support, recovery is possible.


Addiction Treatment for Chronic Relapsers

BRC Recovery specializes in addiction treatment for chronic relapsers and the treatment-resistant. High levels of structure, 12-step immersion, and a commitment to holistic healing inform our proven approach to recovery. If you or a loved one are looking to quit drugs or alcohol once and for all, call 1-866-461-1759 today.