Although Colorado is primarily known as a “marijuana” state, recent records show that alarming rates of Meth use have been occurring over the state, bumping the overdose death toll past 1,000 lives between 2016 and 2017.
According to the Denver Post, the number of overdose deaths surpassed the traffic death toll by the hundreds and is quickly becoming the fastest growing drug for fatalities in the state, right after heroin and opioids prescriptions.
Since the mid-nineties, the media and the DEA have been very adamant about the dangers of meth use, and most of us have seen the horrifying before and after pictures that show the physical damage of methamphetamines. But if it is so dangerous, why is it that people continue to flock towards it?
According to NPR, “Meth is particularly insidious because it’s cheap, readily available, and “very common. Everyone does it.”
Most people who abuse or become addicted to methamphetamine are primarily not trying out that drug first. It is usually a gradual slip starting from recreationally using other drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, or prescription medications.
After a while, when the person becomes addicted and starts to lose money, they look for cheaper alternatives that can still provide that intense high they are looking for.
The Meth Death Toll
According to Denver Recovery Group counselor, Melissa McConnell, who performed an assessment of the drug overdose numbers released by Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment,
“Meth was found in the systems of 280 Coloradans who died of overdoses in 2017… more than five times that recorded in 2012.”
One of the most dangerous aspects of the drug is that people are now mixing or combining it with other deadly drugs, which is another reason why there has been such a massive jump in the overdose death rates. For example, Denver Recovery Group notes that in the past, individuals usually came in with a major addiction to one substance, whether it be cocaine, heroin, or meth.
- 959 people died from overdoses in Colorado in 2017
- In meth-related overdoses alone, 280 people lost their lives.
- Methamphetamine use almost doubled for one of the states largest drug treatment facilities – in the short amount of time of 2013-2017
- Denver arrests for meth possessions nearly tripled between 2013 and 2017
Now, people are coming in a lot more often with combined drug addictions, as methamphetamine is being used as a cheap and powerful antagonist or synergist with the other drug these people are using.
McConnell states, “once people come in for treatment (of a dual drug addiction), they start to get off the opiates, but their meth use increases.”
Where Is It Coming From?
There is this widespread belief, fed to us from the original explosion of meth and it’s humble manufacturing out of basements and trailers. Most of us can remember a news story from some point about a local meth operation exploding due to staff negligence, and the crackdown on Over the Counter cough medications after their link to meth production.
Now, things are a lot different. Cartel groups in both Mexico and China have been smuggling major manufactured meth across the border, and they are able to sell it for dirt cheap.
According to Tom Gorman, who is the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for Rocky Mountain High, Colorado,
“I would sit almost 100 percent of our meth comes from Mexico… mass produced in superlabs.”
Along with the rise in fatal Fentanyl imports from China, Mexico drug cartels are secretly and discretely shipping meth over by the truckload.
How Does Meth Addiction Happen?
Studies have shown that most people who develop drug addictions, in general, come from a place of trauma, depression, anxiety, etc. Many people, especially those who move to harder drugs, are introduced to some form of a prescription drug at an early age, and it takes off from there.
Many people say marijuana is a gateway drug, but as of right now, the largest percentage of addicts in the nation are Americans between the ages of 18 and 35. This generation grew up in the heroin epidemic of the 90’s, and the Oxycontin days of the present. Many people, both in recovery and in active addiction, to opioids and heroin, report that their first time using a painkiller was when it was prescribed to them by a doctor for a broken bone, wisdom teeth removal, or some sort of physical trauma from sports, a car accident, etc.
On the other hand, this is the generation of ADD and ADHD, and a large percentage of this population was diagnosed with and funneled Ritalin or Adderall from a pretty young age.
There is endless research showing the correlation between early teenage prescription drug use leading into a drug addiction in later years.
Meth addiction doesn’t just happen overnight. People don’t ever think that they will become meth addicts, but after the tolerance from other drugs sets in, and finances get low due to addiction, meth, for some, becomes a no-brainer.
What It’s Like To Get Off Meth
Just like with most other drugs, methamphetamine acts in extreme levels on the brain’s dopamine and serotonin levels. This is what makes the high so intense and pleasurable for users. However, over time, and with frequent use, the drug can actually start to deteriorate the centers in the brain that release these chemicals,
People who are looking to stop using meth will find it a real challenge because it can create:
- Sudden and extremely intense mood swings
- Major Depression and Depressive Episodes
- Extreme Anxiety and Paranoia
- Intense Lethargy and Fatigue
- Insomnia and Hallucinations
- Suicidal and even Homicidal thoughts
Many people who get off meth reporting feeling well and happy again after the initial two weeks, but after about a month or so, many people experience very severe depression and cravings, which leads people back to a relapse. Meth is damaging to the brain in that it creates very long lasting damage that, with the right treatment, counseling, and recovery program, it CAN be beaten.