Meth wave is latest drug in U.S. epidemic of addiction and opioids

Meth wave is latest drug in U.S. epidemic of addiction and opioids

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CINCINNATI – The floor seemed filthy and she could not get rid of the grime.

Amie Detzel frantically scrubbed that nursing home floor with cleaning supplies she’d found when no one was looking. On hands and knees, dragging her IV pole with her, the gravely sick woman incessantly scrubbed.

Meth had found its way into the nursing home. She was suffering from addiction. So she used it.

The psychotic episode happened after Detzel had spent days (and nights) of pushing the drug into the intravenous catheter that her caregivers were using to infuse antibiotics into her infected heart. The infection had come from a contaminated needle.

That catheter, the pathway for lifesaving antibiotics, became just another way to get a drug into Detzel’s body to alter her brain.

This was not heroin, which she’d been through. This was not fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opiate that had rushed into Cincinnati several years ago. This was methamphetamine, the primary drug now flooding the streets of Cincinnati and other communities across the country. It’s a psychostimulant. It can induce psychosis.

That explains the scrubbing.

Crystal meth at the Hamilton County crime laboratory. Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, county coroner, who's department oversees the crime lab, said in 2019 they had 3,700 related meth cases, a six-fold increase in four years. According to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), a gram of meth in Southwest Ohio can for as little as $4.50, compared to heroin at $40.00 per gram. Photographed Wednesday, January 22, 2020.

This new wave of meth is causing police and parents of users and even government officials to shift their focus from opioids to this stimulant – a drug that used to be common, then faded, but is resurging. This time, with much more purity, coming directly from Mexico, not backyard cookeries or houses or sheds.

The rise in meth tested at law enforcement crime laboratories across Ohio and Kentucky is staggering.

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