The United States has been extremely focused on the opioid epidemic as the drug has made its way across the country. Overdose deaths coupled with major trafficking rings have taken the time and attention of Colorado authorities who have struggled to get ahead of the problem. While they’ve definitely made progress in the fight against opioid use, a recent article by FOX News shows a renewed interest in the state’s original drug of choice—methamphetamine.
A Sudden Surge in Use
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a study that showed meth as one of the fastest growing causes of overdose deaths between 2016 and 2017. The latest figures don’t bode well, especially for people living in Denver and other populated areas. Many treatment professionals point to former opioid addicts turning to meth to cope, trading one drug for another.
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that can cause artificial bursts of energy and euphoria. However, prolonged use eventually leads to depression, paranoia and a need to use more of the drug to get the same high. Surprisingly, meth isn’t being made in basement labs or backwoods bathtubs in Denver. The majority of the drug us coming from “super-labs” located in Mexico that produces huge amounts to ship out to the states. Although, Denver has been fighting a losing battle with local labs over the last few years.
Why People are Turning to Methamphetamine
When an addict doesn’t get the treatment they need, their disease goes on unchecked. They may be able to stop using one drug, but the impulse to stay high will end up being more important. With the crackdown on opioids and prescription drugs, it’s becoming harder for people to purchase pills and heroin on the street. If they aren’t ready to stop using and to admit that they have a drug problem, addicts sometimes switch to another substance.
The effects of meth also work to counter the effects of heroin and other opioids. Some addicts regulate their entire days using different drugs to stay up, and then to shut down when the day’s over. After a long time doing this, it becomes nearly impossible to know how to live without having chemicals to control all of their feelings.
Meth is also incredibly cheap compared to other drugs. A small amount can keep a person high for days, and the quality varies wildly. When local dealers do try to make their own product, it can lead to a dangerous mix of chemicals. These chemicals can include everything from chemical fertilizers to household cleaning products and cold medicines. Meth “cooks” have to covertly collect all of these ingredients to avoid being detected by authorities.
All over the country, pharmacies and other stores that sell medications with pseudoephedrine, a popular cold medicine, have to make buyers sign a sheet saying they’ve purchased the product. This allows local authorities to keep track of people who might be buying medications to make meth.
The problem isn’t new, and the Denver Post reported the bust of a local meth lab across the street from an elementary school in August. Unfortunately, even with the heavy influx of Mexican meth, local labs are still alive and well.
What Happens When a Local Meth Lab is Discovered?
In Colorado, a real estate agent is required to disclose any knowledge of potential meth activity before selling a home, but there are times when a person moves into a home without prior knowledge. If they find evidence of meth use in the home, they can send samples out to a lab for testing. This usually costs over $10,000 and can result in a need to completely gut the property to get rid of toxic chemicals.
When police bust any type of meth lab, they need to call in specially trained officers who can work with explosives. At any time, the volatile chemicals used to mix the drug can explode; often with tragic results. Children living in homes with active meth labs face twice the threat—they’re breathing in toxic chemicals every day and live with the risk of that violent reaction. This isn’t a harmless way to make some cash, and it definitely isn’t as glamorous as television dramas like to make it out to be.
Once the meth lab has been broken down and the components removed, the property will have to be reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The assessment will have to be completed by a HAZMAT certified agent, and the cleanup will have to be done according to the government standards. This sometimes means tearing down the house or building because the toxicity is just too great.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about meth houses is that they can only be contaminated by entire labs. In reality, all it takes is regular smoking of meth inside the home to make it unlivable. Denver police reported that nearly half of all houses tested came back positive for contamination, and a third of those had to be completely gutted before they could be lived in.
How is Methamphetamine Addiction Treated?
With meth use on the rise, understanding your treatment options is essential. Whether you or someone you love is fighting an addiction to meth, you need to learn more about Denver rehab facilities that can help. Many of the facilities have evolved through the opioid epidemic and are more prepared than ever to help addicts battle their disease.
Meth addiction changes people. It makes them behave erratically and slowly takes over every part of their lives. When it’s used in conjunction with other drugs, it becomes even more dangerous than when it’s used by itself. Overdosing on meth is terrifying and can cause fatal heart palpitations or an exposure to an imbalance of deadly chemicals.
All addicts need some sort of help to stop using. Denver, CO, has a strong support system and help is only a phone call away. Getting help now could be the difference between life and death. Don’t wait.