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Rising Methamphetamine Addiction Overshadowed by Opioid Epidemic

By: Carol Morriscey

The Opioid Epidemic has consumed the media, with endless headlines of escalating opioid use and soaring overdoses. Everywhere you look there is a headline proclaiming the increased use of opioids and the skyrocketing number of overdoses. “Opioid Epidemic” has become a household term, with our country’s opioid abuse problem all too well known. However, as the opioid epidemic dominated the headlines, another drug problem was silently thriving. Opioids, such as heroin or prescription medications, are considered sedatives and their effects include drowsiness, slowed breathing and euphoria. Not all drug users seek these effects, some like for a burst of energy. Methamphetamine and Cocaine are considered ‘uppers’, resulting in increased heart rate and breathing rate, increased blood pressure and increased energy. While our country has been focused on the increasing rates of use of opioids, the use of ‘uppers’, such as methamphetamine, has been increasing behind the scenes.

Methamphetamine Addiction in Canada

The increase in methamphetamine use in Canada has been dramatic. Crystal meth use has increased by 700% in the last ten years in Vancouver, illustrating the growing problem of methamphetamine addiction. In Victoria, meth was injected more frequently than heroin among a group of street-involved individuals. This data is in stark contrast to the overwhelming reports of opioid use, and the conspicuous absence of methamphetamine use in the news.

The price of meth has dropped substantially, from almost $300 for a pure gram in the late 1990s, to a stunning $66 for a pure gram. This drop in price has been linked to manufacturing going south of the border to Mexico where production takes place in labs, allowing purity to increase and price to decrease. It can cost less than $5 a day to maintain the addiction, compared to the estimated $100 a day it costs to maintain a prescription opioid addiction. This combination creates a dangerous situation for methamphetamine addiction to soar.

Cocaine Addiction in Canada

According to The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse the youth of the Atlantic provinces are hardest hit by cocaine use. Over five percent of youth (grades 7-12) in Newfoundland and Labrador reported past year cocaine use, compared to the national average of 1.8%. On the other coast, rates of cocaine injection have seen a steady decrease from 2010 to 2015 at Insite, Vancouver’s supervised-injection site. Similar to methamphetamine, the price of cocaine dropped by 80 percent since the early 1990s, and purity has increased. This is a dangerous combination, making a potent cocaine high more accessible, and an addiction more likely.

The Importance of Drug Rehabs for Methamphetamine Addiction

Withdrawal symptoms of methamphetamine can be quite serious, including seizures, narcolepsy, and stroke. Because of the possibility for a severe withdrawal, attending a drug rehab is a crucial step in a healthy recovery from methamphetamine addiction. Unfortunately, there is no current pharmacological treatment for methamphetamine addiction treatment. However, research into a replacement drug similar to Suboxone or methadone used for opioid addiction is being done for methamphetamine addictions. In the meantime, having well-trained medical staff, such as those at Searidge Drug Rehab is essential for a safe methamphetamine detox.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine rehab is necessary for many individuals to effectively address their cocaine addiction. As a result of Atlantic Canada’s disproportionately high rates of cocaine use, Searidge drug rehab is specialized in treating cocaine addiction. Using evidence based treatments, such as psychotherapy, cocaine addiction is effectively addressed at Searidge Foundation. As well, a medical detox from a cocaine addiction may be crucial in some scenarios. For individuals who have relapsed during previous quit attempts, or individuals with co-occurring mental illnesses a supervised medical detox is recommended.

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals