Authorities in Ohio are warning residents about the recent resurgence in methamphetamine use across the region, which they say is being driven by heroin abuse.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Health revealed Monday they observed a roughly 125-percent increase in meth-related deaths over 2017. The increases are due to a misconception among those addicted to substances like heroin that meth offers a safer alternative, along with opioid users who turn to meth to deal with agonizing withdrawal symptoms, reports ABC 6.
Police say current meth supplies are not the work of local dealers cooking in their homes, but a concerted push by drug cartels to take advantage of U.S. communities hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. Meth seizures hit a record high across Ohio in 2017 when police seized roughly 145 pounds of the drug. Police estimate they will seize roughly 300 pounds of meth by the end of 2018. (RELATED: Study: States Might Be Undercounting Opioid Deaths By As Much As 70,000)
“It literally looks like crushed ice,” said Lt. Bob Sellers, an officer with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, according to ABC 6. “It’s very pure. It’s manufactured in Mexico by drug cartels and they are pushing that into Ohio.”
Ohio lost 4,329 residents to drug overdoses in 2016, a 24-percent increase over 2015, fueled by the flood of synthetic opioids like fentanyl that continue to pour into the country. The number of opioid deaths would be much higher without the presence of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, officials say. Ohio first responders administered roughly 43,000 doses of naloxone in 2016.
Data released by officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention July 11 shows the majority of opioid-linked deaths are now the result of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The report shows synthetic opioids killed roughly 27,000 people across the U.S. over the 12-month period ending November 2017, up from roughly 19,413 lives in 2016 and 9,580 lives in 2015. The sharp increase prompted a Health Alert Network warning from CDC officials advising of the ever-increasing presence of synthetic opioids in the drug supply, including in non-opioid narcotics such as cocaine.
Nationally, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
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