The United States has been struggling with drug epidemics for years. From marijuana to opiates, the range of destruction is a sliding scale and is steadily rising. As substance abuse continues to impact the nation, some states feel it more than others—Oregon being the main culprit. An Oregon Substance Abuse Disorder Research Committee report found that two out of every three Oregonians either struggle with a substance abuse disorder or have a friend or family member who does. To raise more awareness about this issue, read on to learn about the main culprit of substance abuse in Oregon—methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine – The Drug Culprit in Oregon
In Oregon, lethal methamphetamine now overshadows the opioid crisis, yet, both drugs continue to wreak havoc. Below we outline the main things you need to know about meth in Oregon.
What Is It?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that commonly comes in the form of a white powder or pill. Under its pseudonym’s “crystal” or “ice,” it’s highly potent and addictive. Chemically, the drug is similar to amphetamine which can help treat conditions such as ADHD. The drug can result in memory loss, aggression, damage to the cardiovascular system, psychotic behavior, malnutrition, severe dental problems, and more.
It does not take long for someone to form a meth addiction, which plays a large role in the drug’s prominence in society. Some even say that meth addiction can form after the very first use. It’s not surprising that this drug has caused so much damage to individuals and continues to impact their personal and social lives.
Experts say that the methamphetamine coming into Oregon “has never been purer, cheaper, or more lethal.” This fact is terrible in more ways than one. Not only has the quantity of the drug increased, but so has the quality—and all for a price that many citizens are willing to pay. It’s all over the streets of Oregon. In Portland, a heroin-abuser named Sean stated how “everybody has meth around here—everybody…it’s the easiest to find.”
The prominence and accessibility of the drug have led to a steady increase in users. According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, the percentage of people (ages 12 and older) using methamphetamine was 5.40%, whereas heroin was 1.90%. Many meth users, however, have a severe polysubstance disorder (using more than one drug at once). Because of this, the typical meth addict is difficult to characterize. Typically, trends associate meth users with a lower socioeconomic status. Individuals from a wide range of backgrounds who are poor, depressed, and disenfranchised can end up using.
In the early 2000s, domestic meth-making was a massive problem. Once Oregon required a prescription for pseudoephedrine, the decongestant in drugstore items such as Sudafed, meth rates went down. After that, Oregon tried to focus on the growing opioid crisis. Mexican cartels used the shift of focus to bring meth back onto the streets by 2010. Cartels have loaded the market with a massive amount of pure, low-cost meth—the drug is readily available to any user. Read here for more specific statistics regarding the prevalence of methamphetamine in Oregon.
Meth and Crime
Meth presents the greatest drug threat to Oregon in 2019, according to the Oregon High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). About nine years ago, there were 50 meth-related deaths, but now that number is almost five times higher. In 2018, 272 people died from complications related to meth—in Multnomah County alone, there were 77 reported deaths. Apart from this, methamphetamine plays a large role in Oregon’s crime world.
When someone is on meth, they tend to be quite aggressive, which can lead to various worst-case scenarios. Meth has the highest correlations with serious crimes—a 2019 survey of law enforcement officers showcase what they believe to be high threat indicators. 58% of Oregon and Idaho officers believed methamphetamine was the greatest drug threat, 75% thought it contributed the most to violent crime, and 61% thought it most contributes to property crime.
Drug seizures for meth have increased 800% from 2010 to 2018, which is a staggering amount, especially compared to the 237% of heroin. All these increases showcase the drastic pervasiveness meth has in the community. The constant presence of meth in the community has a serious effect on many individuals, from addiction to loss of a loved one. To help minimize the presence of methamphetamine and put an end to the meth epidemic, many people and organizations offer their services.
The Road to Recovery
Since meth often results in violent crime, various defense attorneys offer help and guidance in trials. Since Oregon’s DUII law includes the influence of drugs, a Lake Oswego DUII attorney can work to minimize your sentence and get you the help you need. Most lawyers will point you in the direction of public rehabilitation services, especially if the court does not give out court-ordered treatment.
After a jarring statistic spurred them to act, organizations and advocates are working to improve the rehabilitation services across Oregon. In 2019, 400,000 Oregonians were suffering a substance abuse disorder, but Mental Health America ranked the state last for providing the necessary mental health and addiction treatment services. Oregon fails to meet the standard of almost every other state, hardly even meeting a minimum of 50 beds per 100,000 people. To combat this number, individuals formed a coalition—Oregon Recovers. The purpose of the group is to transform the state’s ability and capacity to provide world-class treatment and support for those suffering from substance abuse in Oregon.
Though the meth crisis in Oregon has caused a lot of suffering for many people, the state is slowly working to provide the necessary help. Whether that be from defense attorneys, public rehab facilities, or the growing understanding of how debilitating and prevalent the drug is, more resources are available to Oregon residents. Meth addiction is a treatable condition. If you know anyone struggling or are struggling yourself, reach out for help as soon as possible. There are plenty of people who are ready to support and guide you through this difficult time.