Why Nevada Now Has the Highest Amphetamine Overdose Rate in the Nation
A new study released by the CDC shows trends of drug overdoses including opioids and amphetamines among other drugs, as the center continues their fight to combat the opioid crisis. The most alarming fact regarding Nevada, a nearly 32 percent increase in amphetamine overdoses since 2015.
A new study released by the CDC shows trends of drug overdoses including opioids and amphetamines among other drugs, as the center continues their fight to combat the opioid crisis.
The most alarming fact regarding Nevada, a nearly 32 percent increase in amphetamine overdoses since 2015.
Opioid overdoses are down 9 percent during that same time period, but it should be noted there is no antidote to an amphetamine overdose unlike opioids with Naloxone.
Keith Carter, Director for the Nevada High Intensity Trafficking Area Program, says he wasn't surprised to see the results of the study.
"Methamphetamine has for a long time been the number one drug threat in Nevada," Carter says. "So it didn't surprise me."
Diane Springborn, Clinical Director for Bristlecone Family Resources, a recovery center, wasn't surprised either. She says meth patients have been their most popular for at least 10 years. She says she did notice an increase of opioid cases, but recently she has noticed a tiny drop. She says there are some patients looking to meth instead of opioids.
"It's getting harder and harder to get the opiates," Springborn says. "And they're going to use something and so they're going to revert back to meth, which is easier and cheaper to obtain at this point."
Another potential reason for more overdoses, mixing drugs. Springborn says she sees a lot of patients who are addicted to more than one substance.
Stephanie Woodard, Senior Advisor on Behavioral Health with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services says the same is often true with overdose deaths.
"These aren't necessarily exclusive," Woodard says. "So while you can see you have an increase in amphetamines, it doesn't mean there aren't also opioids related in those deaths as well."
Another potential reason for more overdoses, stronger meth. Both Woodard and Carter spoke about the history of meth in Reno, and how the origin of the meth has changed. There used to be far more labs in the area, but with fewer and fewer operations, more meth started coming from Mexico, where Carter tells us they have high-tech industrial labs.
Carter believes treatment is a crucial component in the fight, but with a problem this big, treatment is not enough.
"We need more treatment in our country, there's no question about that," Carter says. "But you just have to look, it's simple mathematics. Treatment will never catch up to drug use. We have to stem the flow. That's really the bottom line."
Carter says most of the time they make drug busts in Las Vegas or Reno, they find multiple kinds of drugs. Carter knows the chances of an overdose rises when you mix drugs, so it's a scary thought that addicts can pick up different kinds of drugs in the same place.
Carter says the business acumen of Mexican cartels drives the flow of different drugs as the popularity of one starts to fade. While the popularity of opioids may not be dropping, a combination of new drugs in the wings and a growing tendency to mix drugs reinforces the idea to focus on addiction, rather than individual drugs.
"An addiction is an addiction is an addiction," Springborn says. "So the basic treatment for the addictions are pretty much the same."
"What we do need to do I think is pay more attention to addiction as a phenomenon," Woodard says. "And recognize that individuals typically are not just using and addicted to one substance but often many. And that it's the vulnerability to addiction that really needs to be addressed from a prevention standpoint."