Even though meth has become less of a household name than it used to be in the past, there is still a market for this drug on the streets and it is still a very dangerous substance. In fact the drug has become even easier to find, cheaper to buy, and more potent than ever before. Meth can cause some very problematic symptoms including a persistent heightened state of energy, almost a mania, that can, if abused too much, turn into a disturbing and frightening psychosis. This is a drug that should never be underestimated. And since it has become more potent it is even more dangerous than ever.
North Dakota’s Meth Problem
While national headlines will talk about opioids, North Dakota has been dealing with a larger and faster growing problem of it’s own; meth addiction. Amphetamine usage in prescription drugs and methamphetamines like crystal meth have exploded in use within the past 5 years. Of all people who use any kind of illicit drug, nearly half use meth or amphetamines. Compared to just 7% of drug users using opioids, it’s clear that the real story for the state is in fact a tragic tale about meth addiction claiming lives while the country can’t stop making a big deal about opioids.
Not only is there no national task for providing additional federal aid to states to help with the meth problem like opioids, there’s nothing specific that can be purchased by the state to immediately help the situation. There’s no naloxone that can be delivered to hospitals and clinics. There’s not much in the way grants going out to research facilities to find one either. It’s simply invisible to everyone else except hospitals, clinics, law enforcement and those using and selling it.
Out of the drugs that most threaten the public health of state citizens, meth ranks second only to alcohol, making it the number one most dangerous illegal substance in the state. It’s damage to the human mind and body are permanent and require funding for care, treatment and recovery. The adverse health effects of meth use can lead to heart attack or stroke and even if help is able to be administered, whether the patient is able to accept it in their state or not, becomes another concern as often times meth users will behave violently and irrationally when on high doses.
Meth Crime vs. Other Drug Crimes in North Dakota
Crime statistics in North Dakota will not make too much distinction about what kinds of crimes are used for the summary. It can mean a simple case of possession or an assault while under the influence. Even here, though, it’s clear that meth is a far more severe problem for North Dakota to solve when compared to opioids in the state. Meth related arrests have risen from 246 in 2010 to 1,633 in 2015. Compared to heroin related arrests of which there were only 177, it’s clear that meth is incurring 10 times the impact on law enforcement in the state comparatively.
Overall, all drug related crimes are also on the increase. The total number of incarcerations occurring in part due to substance use, whether drugs or alcohol, has doubled between 2011 to 2015, going from 334 to 779 each year. The drug offenders under supervision has also come very near doubling. In 2011, there were just 1,306 on probation compared to the 2,507 in 2015. The number of drug cases submitted to the State Crime Laboratory increased 26% as well.
Considering, again, that the use of meth accounts for nearly half of all users of illicit drugs, it becomes clearer why the meth related crimes are as high as they are, especially when contrasted with opioid and heroin related crimes.
Often times, meth addiction in it’s later stages can cause severe aggressive behavior. When coupled up with the intense desire to procure more of the drug, it’s a combination that’s much more likely to end up with the addict in handcuffs or worse. Addicts arrested in the middle of withdrawal can make matters worse for themselves. Even incidents where there was no suspicion of meth use can turn into a meth-related arrest due to the reaction of the addict to the non-related issue. If escalated, it can lead to assault.
When adding up expenses for treatment, incarceration, court costs, property damage, hospital fees, etc., meth addiction is one of the most costly addictions for the state. While the crimes aren’t nearly as abundant as those related to alcohol, the only substance with more arrests, the crimes committed are more likely to be violent and aggressive.
Unlike opioids, treating meth and amphetamine addiction has nothing by way of a pharmaceutical shortcut. There are no special drugs one can take to prevent an overdose and there is nothing a patient can take to curb withdrawal feelings and cravings. This on it’s own is enough to make it far more dangerous than the opioid crisis which continues to experience more and more federal support for distributing drugs designed to minimize most every effect of opioids.
Treatment for meth use often requires heavy emphasis on treatment of mental illnesses. Meth has severe effects on a person’s behavior, causing very unpredictable and paranoid behavior that can sometimes turn violent physically, if not verbally. Long term usage has shown that other cognitive therapies are required as the drug does permanent brain damage causing loss of various functions of the brain. Psychosis is often a part of the meth addiction experience for one reason or another, making the goals of meth treatment far exceed simply getting an addict to stop using.
Long term post-treatment is usually highly recommended because of the mental illness complications that occur from lengthy addictive use. The mental well-being of a patient recovering from meth addiction is often times the difference between a life of sobriety and a life of losing battles to the drug.