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Friday, January 24, 2020

Congress Addresses Methamphetamine Use in America

stimulant use disorder
Earlier this month, we covered the rise of methamphetamine use in America and the surge in overdoses related to the dangerous stimulant. Regular readers of our blog will remember that since late 2018, methamphetamine use has led to more fatalities than opioid painkillers.

It's vital to point out that opioids continue to be a significant crisis in the United States. Prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil steal the lives of thousands of Americans each year. However, public health officials and lawmakers must address the alarming trend of methamphetamine use ravaging many parts of the U.S.

From the Central Valley of California to rural Missouri, meth is back in full force. The source of the dangerous stimulant is Mexico and the cartels that operate super laboratories. As we pointed out previously, today's methamphetamine is significantly more potent and less expensive than the meth of the 2000s.

Government crackdowns during the height of the American meth epidemic of decades past created a shortage that the cartels were happy to fill. Each year, tons of the drug is smuggled across the southern border and then dispersed across the greater United States.

It's worth noting that many Americans living with opioid use disorders also use stimulants. The simultaneous use of central nervous system depressants and stimulants is hazardous. The term used to describe what happens when a person combines two different types of substances is drug synergism.

When two or more drugs are used simultaneously, it causes the total effect of the drugs to be more significant than the sum of the individual effects of each drug. When opioids and stimulants are used together, the practice is often referred to as "speedballing."

The American Addiction Epidemic

Most Americans tend to view the public health crisis in the U.S. as an opioid epidemic. However, opioids are only one facet of an even more significant problem. What we are facing should be called the American addiction epidemic.

Millions of Americans are battling opioid use disorder and stimulant use disorders; some individuals meet the criteria for both conditions. In our previous post, we mentioned that states are having a challenging time addressing the scourge of methamphetamine use. The problem is that lawmakers were so fixated on tackling opioid use that they lost sight of the big picture.

Congress began directing billions in funding in the last decade to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders. However, provisions mandate the funds only to be used for opioid-related conditions. So, even though there are resources available, public health officials cannot direct them for the treatment of stimulant use disorders.

Lawmakers were made aware of the above issue and, mirabile dictu, they are taking action. Congress passed a spending bill late in 2019 that allows states to use funds earmarked for opioid addiction to address instead stimulant use, The New York Times reports. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is preparing to inform states that they can tap into a $1.5 billion grant program previously relegated for the opioid crisis.

"We are concerned that while the nation, rightly so, is devoting so much of its attention and resources to the opioid epidemic, another epidemic — this one involving cocaine and methamphetamine — is on the rise," wrote the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J. and ranking Republican Greg Walden of Oregon. 

SLO County Addiction Treatment Center

The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one begin the journey of recovery from opioid or stimulant use disorder. Please contact us today to learn more about our detox and evidence-based addiction treatment programs. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.