Is Meth Use in Spokane a Runaway Train? What the Stats Reveal

The Recovery Village RidgefieldRehab

Orange train in motion.

How is this for a headline? “Truck hauling Starbucks to Spokane also carried 126 pounds of meth, police say.” That is an actual lead story from April in the Seattle Times. Does this mean there is so much meth in Spokane that drug dealers are bringing it in by the truckload? Given that Spokane Cares says 80 percent of the meth in Spokane has been manufactured by Mexican drug gangs, that seems to be the case.

This article examines statistics related to meth abuse, overdose, and death in Spokane. How prevalent is the problem? How does meth use compare with other drugs abused in Spokane? What is being done to address the issue? Where can Spokane residents go to get help for meth addiction?

What Is the Reality? A Hard Look at Meth in Spokane

Hard drug use is often tied to crimes. Drugs like meth and heroin often cause the substance user to behave erratically and sometimes violently, according to the Spokane police. From car thefts to break-ins, these substances are irrevocably tied to crime in the Spokane community. Lindsay Nadrich, a reporter from KREM2, the CBS affiliate, tracked Spokane’s crime stats for just two weeks; she found that 75 percent of the crimes recorded by the police had an element of drug abuse. 

Spokane police officer JJ O’Brien said:

For a good majority of people, they don’t hear about it, so they think maybe it doesn’t exist. But it’s a problem, and many of the people arrested are using substances and/or at least possessing them.”

Meth use is rapidly increasing in Spokane, despite the best efforts of Spokane addiction treatment centers to offer help. Spokane Cares, a community organization made up of volunteers, legislators, and non-profits, lays out the latest statistics on meth use here:

  • Spokane’s needle exchange program sees 35 to 60 every hour, trading out 3,000 to 5,000 needles. 
  • 60 percent of the people in these programs use meth.
  • Meth is the number one drug of choice in Spokane and the fastest expanding type of drug addiction in the state. 
  • The rate of relapse from meth can run as high as 90 percent.
  • The increase in meth usage is increasingly tied to homelessness across the state. Since meth is an appetite suppressant and stimulant, the homeless use when they can to stay up all night and walk around. Sleeping on the street makes for a certain level of vulnerability, so staying up all night can help prevent their being robbed or hurt.
  • Many homeless people on the streets of Spokane have mental illness and use substances, creating a dual-disorder diagnosis for Spokane addiction treatment centers.
Spokane addiction

Deaths from meth have skyrocketed in Spokane.

Spokane Cares says: “Our jails and prisons are filled with addicts who are very difficult to manage.” They cite statistics that make meth addiction sound like an out-of-control train, moving so quickly now it could jump off the rails.

When the Spokane County Medical Examiner released their 2016 report, there were some grim statistics that clearly showed the problem of meth in Spokane and the surrounding area:

  • In 2016 there were 125 deaths in Spokane County from drug overdoses.
  • That number was up from the prior year when there were 82 overdoses in the county.
  • 115 of these deaths were determined as accidental overdoses.
  • Meth was by far the leading cause of overdose death followed by heroin and cocaine.
  • Legal prescription drugs cause the next highest number of drug-related deaths, including oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and hydrocodone.

What is holding this train on the tracks is Spokane addiction treatment centers that carry the heavy load of helping substance users heal.

Getting Help – Spokane Addiction Treatment Centers

At Spokane addiction treatment centers, we know a lot about meth addiction.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that is produced in illegal labs in a very dangerous process of mixing a variety of chemicals together. 

Meth is a chemical so toxic that it damages all the parts of a person. Meth can be snorted, smoked, ingested, or injected. It damages the body by first rotting the teeth. All you have to do is Google “meth mouth,” and you will understand how the toxic chemicals in meth slowly kill the body. In fact, the chemicals are so toxic, just breathing the smoke from meth can destroy your teeth and gums. 

When meth users come down from their high, they immediately feel compelled to get high again because of the extreme anxiety, depression, and exhaustion that are so intense during withdrawal.  As meth begins to kill their body, users may feel like there are bugs crawling all over their skin. Meth users often have infected sores from digging at their skin.

What you may not realize is meth actually changes the chemical makeup of the brain. That is partially why it is so hard to stop the addiction. It is three times more powerfully addictive than cocaine, acting in a way that forces the brain to release dopamine and adrenaline. Consistent use of this drug rewires decision-making and logic, turning the meth user into a different person. Over time, the part of the brain that produces dopamine is destroyed so the substance user is not able to feel much of anything at all – except for the craving for more meth. 

Coming down from meth is extremely tricky and should only be attempted in a licensed Spokane addiction treatment center. The most dangerous time for meth users is when the drug is initially wearing off. Meth users have an extreme feeling of emptiness, restlessness, and drug craving and are at high-risk of harming themselves.

Long-term meth uses causes:

  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Irritability
  • Psychosis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Brain damage
  • Skin infections
  • Heart infections
  • Death

Despite the fact that meth addiction seems to be a runaway train in Spokane, there is help at the addiction treatment centers in the area. From medically assisted detox to get you through the first and toughest stages of getting clean, to undergoing residential drug treatment that will provide compassionate care, there are highly-trained teams standing by to help. From group and individual counseling to access to a supportive recovery community, Spokane addiction treatment helps meth users get clean and get back on the road to recovery every day. To learn more about admissions, call now!

Is Meth Use in Spokane a Runaway Train? What the Stats Reveal
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