In 2017, the state of Oregon saw a decline in opioid overdose deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 2015 and 2017 in Oregon, prescription drug death numbers fell from 198 to 154. The state of Oregon has instituted a large number of funded initiatives, such as task forces and naloxone distribution, to curb the growth of opioid abuse. The Oregon Health Authority, a government agency, reports that deaths from opioid overdose decreased by 45% over the course of ten years.
Despite the positive reports, Oregon still faces another drug problem. Even as deaths from opioid overdose decline, the use of methamphetamine is increasing. A Drug Threat Assessment published by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program reports that over the past nine years, drug deaths in the state of Oregon have increased fivefold. In 2018, 272 people died after using methamphetamines. Local news outlets have issued public health concerns over the amount of meth coming in from Mexico for sale on the streets in urban areas of Oregon.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth is a stimulant that often resembles a crystalline white powder or clear crystals. Methamphetamines are made from ingredients deemed unfit for human consumption, such as ammonia and lithium. The acidity and toxicity of meth are high. Meth is chemically created and can be injected, snorted, smoked or swallowed. Meth is highly addictive and can cause numerous health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Decreased immunity to disease
- Infections of the skin or heart
- Brain damage
- Tooth and mouth decay
People who begin using meth are highly likely to become addicted. Evidence of meth addiction may include:
- Rotting teeth or bad breath
- Weight loss
- Aging skin
- Fidgeting or anxiety
- Paranoia and hallucinations
Even with the decrease in opioid abuse, the meth epidemic in Oregon has quietly grown. The Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon reported 78% of people in Oregon know a person who struggles with addiction issues. The same report indicates that the number of deaths from meth overdose are double those caused by heroin overdose in the state. Meth is cited as a leading cause of death in communities throughout Oregon, especially among the homeless.
The state has a multi-drug approach to substance abuse, in which it addresses a variety of drugs and elements of addiction. The type of individuals drawn to meth may vary from those that abuse opioids. This means that a different approach may be necessary to help people who are addicted to meth find proper channels for long-term recovery.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Methamphetamine.” N.D. Accessed August 14, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Oregon Opioid Summary.” Revised March 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Oregon Health Authority. “Reducing Opioid Overdose and Misuse.” N.D. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Oregon-Idaho HIDTA Program. “Drug Threat Assessment Program Year 2020.” June 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Pennelle, Olivia. “Meth: The Leading Cause of Drug-Related Deaths in Oregon.” Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon, February 15, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Terry, Lynne. “Special Report: Oregon’s Meth Epidemic Surges Amid Focus On Opioids.” The Lund Report, July 5, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Schmid, Thatcher. “What’s the Drug of Choice for Portland’s Homeless?.” Willamette Week, August 16, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2019.