In the shadows of the American opioid crisis is methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant that is making a robust comeback in the United States. With all the discussion surrounding opioid use disorder, lawsuits against “big pharma,” and over 100 overdose deaths each day, it’s not challenging to lose sight of other harmful substances.
Meth was big news in the 2000s until the opioid epidemic overshadowed the drug. Those who are old enough may remember anti-meth campaigns across the country. You may remember when pharmacies began requiring a photo ID to purchase certain cold medicines and limited the number of Sudafed packages you could buy at once. Back then, lawmakers and public health officials were calling it the meth epidemic.
When the headlines shifted to prescription opioids, then heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, most Americans didn’t give methamphetamine a second thought. Some might have reasoned that meth was no longer a problem in America, and that stimulant use disorders were minuscule in number. Sadly, neither belief was accurate; the opposite is true.
Government crackdowns did slow meth production and distribution for a moment. However, the demand for the powerful stimulant never subsided, and Mexican cartels picked up where American clandestine chemists left off.
In 2020, methamphetamine is more potent and cheaper than ever before. What’s more, there is no shortage of Mexican meth – sometimes referred to as ice – coming across the border. Methamphetamine is a significant problem in rural towns and major urban hubs. Those who become hooked on meth face many obstacles to finding recovery. Moreover, there are not any FDA approved medications for treating stimulant use disorder.
A Methamphetamine Crisis in Colorado
It may surprise you to learn that meth was involved in more overdose deaths than prescription opioids in some areas of the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that overdose deaths linked to stimulants spiked by nearly 22 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Colorado has been struck by a surge of methamphetamine use, as have several states in the west. Colorado Public Radio recently covered a story on the subject that focused on a young woman who nearly lost everything.
Melinda McDowell has been in recovery for more than a year after becoming hooked on meth in 2017 following the death of her mother. She said she was instantly addicted after trying the powerful psychostimulant. McDowell lost 130 pounds in a short period, experienced severe hallucinations that led to self-harm, and her two children were placed in foster care.
With little hope in sight, Ms. McDowell reached out to a treatment center in her area for support, according to the article. It was there that she got on the path toward recovery with the help of group therapy and medication that may help people with stimulant use disorders.
Naltrexone is a medication that is most commonly used to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders. However, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests it can help people who are addicted to meth and cocaine too.
“The shaking started going away. I wasn’t panicking. I could feel some relief.” McDowell said. “I knew there was something different.”
McDowell reports that Naltrexone eased her withdrawal symptoms. She credits her year plus sober to therapy and the drug that has not been approved by the FDA for meth addiction. She is working on getting her children back and hopes to go back to school and help others who struggle with meth one day.
Colorado Stimulant Use Disorder Treatment
Please contact NorthStar Transitions if you are battling a stimulant use disorder like methamphetamine addiction. Our meth addiction treatment program in Boulder, Colorado, will help you get on the path to long-term recovery. Our highly trained team of addiction professionals can give you the tools to lead a productive and healthy life.