Stopping Continued Meth Use in Oregon
No matter where you turn in Oregon, you are not far from methamphetamine or a person battling a substance use disorder with methamphetamine. It may even be in your own family.
It does not take many sparks to ignite the fire of drug use, fueled by life’s challenges. While struggling through the challenging days of work and finances, a small, seemingly harmless visit to the world of meth use can quickly turn into a dependency and send your life into disarray.
Oftentimes, the public will mistake drug use as the sole problem a person is facing and suggest that they just “say no” or just “give it up.”The answers are not that simple. Often, the drug is what is helping to cope with the real issues in life.
Issues such as depression, trauma, anxiety, and more can be dampened by the use of drugs such as methamphetamine. But the cost is more than expected.
It all began with a small offering of a bag of crystal meth from a friend at a party, and before long you find you are using so much that you have spent multiple nights in jail and have lost most of the important things around you. Your house, your car, your job, and if you cannot figure things out soon, it may even take your life.
A Decades-Long Problem in Oregon
Since at least the 1990s, meth use and deaths caused by meth have been notable in Oregon. From Portland to Corvallis to Roseburg and beyond, Oregon is continuing to find itself in the clutches of a nasty battle with methamphetamine on its streets and in the homes of its residents as they struggle with their own personal challenges.
According to the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon (MHAAO), 232 people died from meth in 2016. That rate of death in the state is a threefold increase from 2006, a year notable to the fight against meth use in Oregon that we will revisit a little later.
Those numbers have yet to slow in the four years since.
As the entire country continues fighting the opioid epidemic, Oregon has found itself in two battles. According to Oregon’s medical examiner, there were 311 deaths from heroin-related overdoses in the state from 2015–17 and 412 deaths from methamphetamine in the same time frame.
MHAAO also reports that the amount of meth seized from the streets grew by 800 percent. Arrests from meth use were also drastically higher in that time frame. In fact, in 2018, meth use was attributed to 77 percent of violent crime in the state.
As reported in a study from the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program, the rates of crime in the state from meth use and the death rates have left no option for police officers but to consider meth as the greatest threat to the state and individual communities.
In 2016 alone, Oregon police officers made 15,308 arrests that were directly related to meth use.
The issues with methamphetamine are not only tied to Oregon. Nationally, in 2015, 6,000 people died from stimulant use, most of which was methamphetamine. That number is a 255 percent increase from the national number of deaths from stimulants in 2015.
What Is Meth?
Known on the street as crank, chalk, crystal, dunk, gak, ice, meth, pookie, quartz, rocket fuel, scooby snax, speed, or trash, meth is often used by swallowing, injecting, snorting, or smoking. Often it comes in the form of a white powder, pill, glass, or rocks.
The short-term effects of meth include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased heart rate, increased breathing, higher blood pressure, high temperature, and irregular heartbeat. The long-term effects include anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, confusion, violence, hallucinations, paranoia, weight loss, severe dental problems, itchiness, and delusions.
The list of other health issues from meth use include premature birth during pregnancy, lethargy, higher risk of HIV and AIDS, hepatitis, and more.
Help From Oregon Legislation
Oregon’s legislators have waged a battle against methamphetamine and made progress in the fight. In the past two decades, the state has made sharp moves to combat the use in communities throughout the state.
Notably, in 2006, Oregon became the first state to require prescriptions for nasal decongestants, a common ingredient in homemade meth. By doing this, the state made a strong move against meth labs.
Along with the move to make obtaining ingredients more difficult, the Oregon government and public agencies have taken to the internet to share educational pieces with the communities in their fight to crack down on meth labs.
Oregon.gov used the chance to teach its citizens about meth and spotting meth labs in their neighborhoods. They also opened up about how to report finding a meth lab.
Addiction Services Manager for Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services Division, Anthony Jordan, has spent more than 20 years in the field of addiction in the Oregon area. He explains that public agencies have also been working to take the battle against meth use to the streets, similar to what they have done with opioid use.
“The state of Oregon, and specifically here in Multnomah County, we have made it important to educate the public,” Jordan said. “We did a lot of street walking to get out to the homeless population and more to help with the opioid crisis in the area. We are working on doing that with methamphetamine troubles in the state, while not forgetting the battle the entire country is having with opioids still.”
The work on the internet and the streets have helped, but still meth is commonly found in Oregon despite the lower rates of meth labs.
Where Is the Meth Coming From?
The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA study mentioned earlier also delivered news about where meth is coming from in their findings.
Research from HIDTA indicates that most of the methamphetamine available in the Pacific Northwest region is imported from Mexico and Southwest states in the U.S. The amounts throughout the past decade have consistently risen as well, showing that whatever the traffickers have going on is working for them.
In the past five years, the amount of methamphetamine seized in the United States has tripled according to United States Customs and Border Control. Of the seized drugs, the purity and potency was well above 90%.
With this potency and the cost of a hit hovering just around $5, it is easy to see why the problem exists.
More Effort From Oregon Lawmakers
As the issues of methamphetamine in Oregon have not gone away, Oregon lawmakers have continued to fight for its citizens.
In 2018, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order that aimed to tackle the substance and alcohol use disorders in the state and provide more outlets for Oregonians to receive treatment for their problems. The goal was to stop framing addiction as a criminal justice issue and more of a public health issue.
In 2020, Oregon took their stance a step further by blazing a new trail in the country for being the first to decriminalize substances such as meth and heroin. Measure 110 eliminated criminal penalties in exchange for counseling and/or fines for citizens that are found with less than the following:
Methamphetamine (2 grams or less)
MDMA (less than 1 gram)
Heroin (1 gram or less)
Methadone (less than 40 units)
Cocaine (2 grams or less)
LSD (less than 40 units)
Psilocybin (less than 12 grams)
Oxycodone (less than 40 pills)
“With Measure 110, the jury is still out,” Jordan said. “Oregon has taken the lead in being innovative to try to tackle the substance use problems. It is probably certain that Measure 110 is not the final solution to stopping substance use, but it is an interesting and innovative step to take in finding the solutions. The measure is still very new, so it is almost like a wait and see type thing for us right now, but we know that no matter what, we still must develop strategies of outreach and motivation for the people that, while are being caught and not charged, are still of the mindset that they do not have a problem that needs treated. So we are on the way there with the measure, but still, more work needs to be done.”
Dangers of Meth and Mixing Meth With More Substances
With his multiple decades of experience in the field of addiction, public service, and treatment, Jordan has seen firsthand how the dangers of mixing drugs are as important as talking about individual drugs themselves.
“While meth is a bad thing and can kill, there is real trouble found in mixing substances,” Jordan said. “Especially opioids like fentanyl. Cocaine or other stimulants like meth are fast acting. The high is very short, and it metabolizes quicker, so it is harder to overdose on than an opiate. Opiates are much easier to overdose on because of its slow process of going through your body.”
“However, when you mix the two, you find a killer,” Jordan said. “When mixing an upper (meth) and a downer (opioids) you are not allowing your body time to come down from the high of the other, and you overcompensate with the other drug. This overdoses your system and can lead to death.”
Jordan admits that when he first came to Oregon to attend school at Portland State he did not know much about methamphetamine, but he quickly learned how important knowledge of the drug and its effects on the people of his community would play a role in the future of his position in the community.
“I moved to Oregon in 1995, not knowing much about methamphetamine,” Jordan said. “I came from Virginia where crack and cocaine were the biggest issues. Quickly I saw that people were coming to treatment over and over for meth use. You have to be ready for someone that is ready to stop meth use, because the cravings for the drug are incredibly strong. You must be able to help those coming off of consistent meth use with monitoring, because the cravings are rough. In Oregon, we have a lot of people that have come to learn this, and we have made services like this available to our citizens.”
Luckily for Oregon, along with the efforts of the local government and public agencies, there are organizations that have dedicated themselves to monitoring those coming down from a meth addiction with detox time and rehabilitation treatment.
Serenity Lane’s Promise To Make Oregonians Better
Since 1973, Serenity Lane has been working for the people of Oregon by offering treatment for alcohol and drug use disorders as a non-profit private center.
With locations in Albany, Bend, Eugene, Roseburg, Salem, and two locations in Portland, Serenity Lane has pioneered treatment in the Pacific Northwest by creating programs combining residential service with outpatient service, thus filling the needs of all of those in the area who may be challenged by a substance or alcohol use disorder.
Over the course of his career, Anthony Jordan has seen how important it is to give specified treatment to those with a meth addiction.
“Most of the time people that use meth, when they get off meth, they do not move to something else,” Jordan said. “What will happen, because of the power of meth and the cravings it creates, a person will simply return to doing meth.”
Serenity Lane has created a continuum of care that consists of detoxification, counseling, and various therapeutic modalities to help those struggling with a meth addiction. Serenity Lane exists to make the process of meth detoxification as painless as possible, to help our patients find long-term recovery, and maintain it with our aftercare program.
To learn more about our methamphetamine treatment, visit Serenity Lane today.
Call Serenity Lane Today
The best time to call to begin treatment for a substance use disorder, especially one involving methamphetamine, is today. If you notice signs of abuse or a loved one is struggling with a meth addiction you can call us today to learn more about how to help them find treatment. If you are battling the addiction yourself, we are ready to hear from you and explain the path to recovery with us at Serenity Lane.
We provide equal care to all, regardless of sexual orientation, age, physical ability, ethnicity, religion, or gender identity.
Our phone lines are open at 541-262-5052. There is someone ready to hear from you at this very minute.