Turea County Sheriff’s Office via AP
When Winny Whitetail convened a new session of patient drug use treatment last month Arapaho and Cheyenne, She found that about half of her clients suffered from methamphetamine addiction.
“It’s readily available and easily available,” says White Tail. She is a member of the Cheyenne tribe herself George Hawkins Memorial Treatment Center In Clinton, Oklahoma.
“I think it’s deeply rooted in the community as a whole, not just in the native community,” she told NPR.
A study published in the journal on Wednesday JAMA Psychiatry In the United States, methamphetamine use suggests a surge as a leading cause of high-risk poisoning and death from overdose
From 2015 to 2019, the number of deaths associated with methamphetamine use increased from 5,526 to 15,489 annually, an increase of about 180%.
Researchers have found that Native Americans and Alaska Natives still have the highest incidence of methamphetamine use disorders, with a surge in drug mortality in recent years.
“In terms of absolute numbers, the groups most adversely affected by methamphetamine are Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and the difference is huge,” he says. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Substance Abuse, The person who co-authored the research..
How fentanyl exacerbates stimulant devastation
Methamphetamine is increasingly deadly because many of the stimulant supplies sold on the street are contaminated with the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
According to Volkov, the use of the drug is rapidly spreading to communities that were once thought to be rare. African Americans have increased their use of methamphetamine by a factor of 10 over the same five years.
Dr. Steven TylerAs a psychiatrist and fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the focus of the United States on the opioid crisis has had a devastating effect on the white rural community, so methamphetamine in the color community. It is said to distract attention and resources from the deadly spread of.
“These communities have long faced a significant increase in methamphetamine addiction and mortality from overdose,” Taylor said, adding new details on the magnitude of the increase. I am.
The data also suggest a surge in high-risk behavior associated with methamphetamine in all demographics, including women.
Researchers have found that they are used more frequently, use more needles to inject drugs, and have a higher incidence of combining methamphetamine with other drugs, such as the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Another concern for scientists is that casual and recreational use of methamphetamine is rapidly shifting to full-blown addiction for many. “Of course, it puts you at a much higher risk of dangerous practices,” says Volkow.
It ’s not just the pre-pandemic trend
All data contained in this study were collected prior to the pandemic.
However, Volkov states that preliminary information gathered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2020 indicates another recent surge in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths.
“Therefore, this is huge and is essentially comparable to the increased mortality from overdose seen with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids,” she says.
According to the latest Estimate from CDC, Approximately 96,000 Americans have died from drug overdose in the last 12 months when data are available.
About 15% to 20% of these deaths appear to be related to methamphetamine, which is often contaminated with fentanyl.
NS NPR reportedEfforts to target cartels producing fentanyl and methamphetamine in Mexico (later smuggled to the United States) have been largely elucidated.
Researchers said the findings, released Wednesday, show an urgent need for further research on methamphetamine treatment and more funding for quality programs to support people with methamphetamine use disorders. It states that it is.
“What makes these data even more devastating is that there are currently no approved drugs to treat methamphetamine use disorders.” Emily Einstein, NIDA’s neuroscientist and co-author of the study, said in a written statement.
Last week, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy urged Congress to approve $ 10.7 billion in funding for drug treatment. “I’m saddened by the family who lost their loved ones in the overdose epidemic,” said Regina Label, deputy director of ONDCP, in writing.
Volkow, head of NIDA, states that it is important to build more therapeutic approaches based on cultural strengths and local resources, especially in Native American and Alaska Native communities.
“We have behavioral interventions that have been shown to be effective,” says Volkow. “The ability to provide that support and tailor it to their own cultural needs-it may be beneficial.”
“I have hope every day,” says Winnie Whitetail, who runs an inpatient drug program in Oklahoma. “I think we can start turning this corner so much that we can reach out to young people.”
Whitetail says her program is partially focused on the restoration of cultural and spiritual values, which can help more people in her community avoid recurrence, she said. believe.
“We need to be very conscious of cultural self-esteem,” says Whitetail. “Many of our problems are about low self-esteem, poverty and depression.”
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