From Opioid Epidemic to Meth Resurgence: The Latest Trends in Addiction Medicine – Addiction has been an ongoing public health issue that has plagued societies for decades. In recent years, the opioid epidemic has been a major focus of addiction medicine. However, as opioid-related deaths have plateaued, a new crisis is emerging – the resurgence of methamphetamine use. This article will explore the latest trends in addiction medicine, from the opioid epidemic to the meth resurgence.
The Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s when pharmaceutical companies began marketing prescription painkillers as safe and non-addictive. However, the addictive nature of these drugs soon became apparent, and prescription drug abuse skyrocketed. Eventually, many people turned to cheaper and more accessible forms of opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl.
By 2017, opioid-related deaths had reached a peak of 47,600 in the United States. The crisis prompted a response from lawmakers and healthcare professionals, resulting in a push for more cautious prescribing practices and increased access to addiction treatment.
Progress Made in Opioid Addiction Treatment
While the opioid epidemic continues to be a concern, progress has been made in addiction treatment. Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone have been shown to be effective in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for people to recover from opioid addiction. There has also been an emphasis on increasing access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses.
Additionally, behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM) have been used to help people recover from opioid addiction. These therapies help people change their thought patterns and behaviors surrounding drug use, reducing the likelihood of relapse.
The Meth Resurgence
While progress has been made in combating the opioid epidemic, another crisis is emerging – the resurgence of methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that can cause a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and psychosis.
Methamphetamine use has been on the rise since 2011, with a 43% increase in meth-related deaths from 2015 to 2017. Unlike the opioid epidemic, the meth resurgence is not limited to any one region of the United States – it is a national crisis.
Why Meth is on the Rise
There are several reasons for the resurgence of methamphetamine use. One factor is the availability of the drug. While many of the chemicals used to make methamphetamine are tightly regulated, they can still be obtained through illicit means. Additionally, methamphetamine is cheap and easy to make, making it an attractive option for drug dealers.
Another factor is the growing popularity of “polydrug use,” where people use multiple drugs at once. Methamphetamine is often used in combination with other drugs, such as opioids or cocaine, making it even more dangerous.
The Challenge of Treating Meth Addiction
Treating methamphetamine addiction can be more challenging than treating opioid addiction. Unlike opioids, there are currently no medications approved by the FDA to treat methamphetamine addiction. This means that treatment primarily relies on behavioral therapies, such as CBT and CM.
Methamphetamine addiction can also be difficult to treat because the drug can cause long-lasting changes in the brain. These changes can result in cravings and relapse, even after a person has been in recovery for an extended period.
The Importance of Addressing Both Crises
While the opioid epidemic and the meth resurgence are different crises, they share many similarities. Both are fueled by the availability of drugs and the desire to escape from stress and pain. Additionally, both crises have had a devastating impact on communities across the country.
To address these crises, it is essential to focus on both opioid and meth addiction. This means continuing to improve access to addiction treatment for those struggling with opioid addiction while also developing effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction.
It is also important to address the root causes of addiction, such as poverty, trauma, and mental illness. Many people turn to drugs as a way to cope with these underlying issues, and addressing them can help prevent addiction in the first place.
Finally, it is important to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction. Addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances. By reducing stigma, we can help more people access the care they need and reduce the harm caused by addiction.
The opioid epidemic and the meth resurgence are both serious public health crises that require attention and action. While progress has been made in addressing the opioid epidemic, the resurgence of methamphetamine use highlights the ongoing need for effective addiction treatment and prevention efforts. By continuing to develop and improve addiction treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction, we can work towards a future where fewer people are affected by addiction and its devastating consequences.