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The Epidemic Expands: From Opioids to Meth

A sad-looking man sits by railroad tracks with his head in his hands.
Opioids aren’t the only drugs ruining lives across America.


Some 115 Americans die every day as a result of the opioid epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, now, the epidemic is shifting to what some say is an even more dangerous drug—at least in places like Ohio, Texas, Montana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Iowa and South Dakota.

That drug is meth.

Meth is short for methamphetamine. It’s a highly addictive, powerful stimulant that, at one time, was produced in makeshift meth labs across America. Now, it’s mostly coming across the border from Mexico.

It kills more slowly than heroin or opioids, but it changes lives just as quickly.

Here’s how Kristin Korpela, a social worker in Wisconsin explained it in an NBC News story: “Meth makes you forget that you ever had children.”

The Emerging Meth Crisis

What’s happening, according to some experts, is that heroin and painkiller users are turning to meth.

It all started in 2006 when the U.S. government cracked down on meth labs by placing tighter controls on the over-the-counter cold medicines used to cook meth, creating a void that was swiftly filled by Mexican superlabs. As meth flooded the market, prices fell. By 2014, the estimated number of meth users was up to 569,000 from a low of 314,000 in 2008, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

What does that have to do with opioid users? Authorities have documented heroin users turning to meth because there’s less chance of an overdose.

But that’s not the only reason. Authorities have also documented a disturbing new trend among heroin and painkiller users who are trying to break their addictions by taking daily Vivitrol injections. While Vivitrol blocks the euphoric effects of opioids, it has no effect on stimulants. The result is that Vivitrol users still desperate to get high are turning to meth.

That’s exactly what’s happening in Vinton County, Ohio, which was the focus of a recent NPR story. And when you combine Vivitrol and meth, the results are paranoia, hallucinations and other symptoms that look like schizophrenia.

But meth is powerful enough all on its own to lead many in Vinton County to worry. NPR asked Amanda Lee, a local rehab counselor, which addiction she thought was more dangerous—opioids or meth.

“Methamphetamines scare me more than opiates ever did,” Lee responded.

Hope and Healing at The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House, located in Denver, specializes in treating addictions to prescription painkillers, heroin and methamphetamines.

When you walk through our doors, our first goal is to make you feel safe and comfortable. You’re then assigned your own master’s level therapist who will work with you to come up with a plan for rehab—and to rebuild your life.

One-on-one and group therapy sessions will help you heal emotionally, while chef-prepared meals and activities like yoga and boxing help heal your body. Meanwhile, you’ll be staying in a clean and cozy setting that feels like home, with staff that treats you like family. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the prescription painkillers, heroin and meth treatment programs at The Raleigh House.

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