Rise in meth use creates crisis for health service providers

Rise in meth use creates crisis for health service providers

May 10, 2019

Rise in meth use creates crisis for health service providers

Addiction Substance Abuse

After cleaning out the entire apartment, garage and the loft upstairs, Samantha and her roommate sat down to fit the garage with shelves. That is what they had been up to since the last two days without an ounce of sleep.

Then came the delusions. Illusionary itching started developing all over Samantha’s body convincing her that she had contracted skin lice and scabies. She started picking at her skin, resulting in sores, scars, and wounds. On recollecting what she had eaten, she realized that she had consumed methamphetamine nearly two nights ago. This is just one example of how methamphetamine abuse effects people. In Samantha’s case, her scabies psychosis alerted her mother forcing her to intervene. Her imaginary itches lasted for over a year.

In another example, Keith, who also experimented with meth at a party, shared his experience. When he was returning from the party with his friends, he was convinced that someone was following them. He swam across a lake, ran a mile, and stole a car to escape his chaser. Ultimately, he was apprehended by the police and had to serve time in jail.

Meth abuse rising

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)’s annual report, there were 774,000 people aged 12 years and above who were current users of methamphetamine. Meth, as it is popularly known, is also one of the leading causes of overdose deaths in the United States with the number of cases increasing nearly four times from 2011 to 2017. Several local law enforcement agencies have identified meth as one of the biggest drug threats in the country.

Despite all this, officials and lawmakers in Washington DC have been turning a blind eye to the threat of meth. Currently they are focused on their war against opioids, directing all the energy and funds towards it. Steve Shoptaw, an addiction psychologist at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), said that the opioid crisis in the country had overshadowed the meth threat in the country, especially in the western states.

Shoptaw feels that the meth epidemic is being ignored on purpose. There is a divide even amongst the service providers. People fighting the opioid addiction are scared that their efforts for campaigns like safe injection sites and needle exchange programs might take a hit if meth activism came to the forefront. Problems like lack of funds and the surge in the use of meth have left providers and detox treatment centers in a lurch.

San Francisco hit hard

According to reports, meth related visits to the emergency room (ER) in San Francisco had jumped by 600 percent from 2011 to 2016 and admissions were up by 400 percent. The local officials of San Francisco decided to handle the crisis on their own. London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, constituted a task force to handle the meth crisis.

According to Rafael Mandelman, San Francisco District 8 Supervisor and the co chairman of the task force, said that its high time they did something. He added that the effects of meth abuse were so dangerous that even if a person did not have a mental health disorder at the time of starting meth use, they were bound to develop one as their abuse progressed.

Further, Dr. Anton Nigusse Bland, medical director of psychiatric emergency services at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, said that mental health disorders caused by meth abuse were indistinguishable and were often confused as chronic schizophrenia. He said that people with meth induced mental illnesses were always paranoid.

A different type of epidemic waiting to strike

Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of medicine and substance use at the University of California, San Francisco, warned about a different kind of drug epidemic spreading silently throughout the country. He said that meth on the west coast and cocaine on the east coast had grasped the country along with the ongoing opioid crisis.

He further went on to add that like fashion which repeated itself, the drug waves also repeated themselves. While the 1970s saw heroin being abused extensively, the 1980s saw cocaine use followed by meth. The drug wave returned to heroin and now it was back to meth.

Seeking treatment for meth addiction

For most of the patients in drug addiction treatment, the scary memories of meth-induced psychosis are what motivates them to stay sober. Death rates due to meth abuse have been rising throughout the country. Meth mixed with fentanyl is the latest menace the country is facing now. Meth abuse leads to the development of physical disorders like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disorders, and HIV, and mental disorders like depression and anxiety.

A comprehensive treatment for meth addiction involves a medically supervised detoxification treatment followed by intense psychotherapies and counseling sessions. If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to meth or any other substance and is looking for a licensed detox treatment center, then get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. Call our 24/7 drug addiction treatment helpline 866-548-0190 and speak to a member from our admissions team. You can also chat online to a representative for further assistance.

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