Amidst the opioid epidemic, other drugs of abuse have continued to be a problem for much of the country. In some places, the abuse of drugs like cocaine, meth, and alcohol is on the rise. In 2019, the state of California had seen a spike in methamphetamine use and overdose. Learn more about meth addiction trends in the United States and California.
California Meth Overdose Rates
Though opioids still cause more overdose deaths in the state than meth, the powerful stimulant is starting to close the gap. In 2017, opioids were involved in 2,428 in California, but in specific places, like the San Francisco Bay Area, meth has overtaken opioids as a cause of death in the addiction epidemic.
Amphetamines are a category of stimulants that include prescription medications and illicit drugs like meth. In the San Joaquin Valley, amphetamines accounted for 232 overdose deaths, while opioids were involved in 158 deaths in 2017.
Emergency room visits in San Francisco that are related to methamphetamine rose 600 percent between 2011 and 2016.
Where Does Meth Come From?
Methamphetamine is widely available throughout the United States. It’s possible for amateurs to make meth on their own, and it’s sometimes produced locally. However, this is more difficult and dangerous than getting it from other sources. Amature meth labs can lead to fires and explosions when novice clandestine chemists make mistakes. Several states have cracked down on selling some of the ingredients that are used to make meth, including pseudoephedrine, which is an over-the-counter cold medicine.
According to the DEA’s 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment, meth is trafficked into the country from Mexico across the Southwest Border. With California’s proximity to Mexico, the state is among the largest markets for the drug. Meanwhile, meth traffickers are trying to expand the drug’s market into new states. As meth trafficking rises, domestic meth lab seizures have declined. The DEA also said that the increased supply and demand for meth has lowered its price and increased its purity. That means it may be more potent and easier to obtain.
Meth and Opioids
Opioids and meth are two of the biggest drug threats to California. Opioids are particularly dangerous because common illicit drugs like heroin are being mixed with fentanyl, a powerful opioid that’s about 100 times more potent than morphine.
However, fentanyl is now also being mixed with other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines.
It’s common practice to mix depressants and stimulants in an effort to have them counteract each other’s negative side effects. However, powerful drugs like meth and fentanyl can be deadly combinations.
According to the DEA, the number of reports of meth mixed with fentanyl increased by 173 percent between 2016 and 2017. Fentanyl can be deadly in tiny doses, as small as 2 milligrams.
If it’s mixed with meth, its stimulating effects counteracting the sedation caused by opioids may lead users to believe they can handle a higher dose.
Meth and fentanyl overdose may cause symptoms that come from one or both of the drugs. Meth overdose can cause an elevated heart rate, irritability, sweating, and nausea.
Fentanyl can cause a loss of consciousness, coma, and slowed breathing.