Meth Related Deaths Soared in San Diego County Last Year

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All over San Diego County, the rates of meth-related deaths and recreational use has continued to cause a lot more than alarm in the region. What sounds like something out of the show Breaking Bad, what was once localized to at home meth kitchens has now exploded into overflowing shipments coming in from Mexico.

How did this happen?

A little over ten years ago, there was a giant methamphetamine explosion all around the south-west. People had figured out how to cook it at home using store-bought precursor chemicals. We all remember hearing news reports about meth-related deaths either by kitchen labs exploding or from people pushing themselves to inhumane limits during their meth high.

Around this time, the State Governments and the DEA passed greater laws and bans around those pre-cursor medications, which would make it nearly impossible for the average joe’s to be able to continue their DIY meth kitchens.

However, it seems that while meth production was slowing in the southwestern US, Mexican cartels saw an opportunity to fill the gap it left behind, and they have shown no sign of stopping.

  • Last year, 47 percent of all meth seizures along the border were in the San Diego County – the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • The cost of meth has dramatically reduced, while purity has risen in one year. $240-$450 an ounce in comparison to $600 an ounce the year prior.
  • Despite the ban and restriction around the chemicals needed in both the US and China, Mexican “super labs” have been able to formulate new methods and recipes for processing large amounts of methamphetamine.
  • Many of the smugglers who are tried and prosecuted are juveniles and adolescents who have ingested large quantities and are smuggled over the border.

Rise in Crime

According to records from county jails, 56% of adults arrested in 2016 were under the influence of methamphetamine. Mirroring that, the percentage of juveniles jumped from 8% in 2015, to 14% in 2016.

Not to mention, the arrests and citations that were recorded for 2016 in relation to either a felony or misdemeanor charges for possession of methamphetamines jumped over 2,000 counts in one year.

In 2016 alone in the San Diego County, 6,024 of the total new prison cases had at least one meth charge.

A side note of meth-related deaths and a very sad one at that is that methamphetamines have now become a high statistic in child and adult abuse cases. According to Adult Protective Services, over 20% of adult abuse cases have been in relation to meth use, primarily with adult meth users abusing their parents.

Another issue is that since meth is so prevalent, many people who are sent to jail or prison are not receiving adequate substance abuse treatment, and it is common for methamphetamines to be smuggled into those prison systems.

Meth-Related Deaths

Contrary to the current opioid epidemic that is ravaging the country, where users generally overdose within a few minute span, meth users face more long-term, mental and physical health problems, while an immediate overdose can also occur.

  • San Diego County has reported a meth-related death every 23 hours
  • In 2016 alone, there were 377 meth-related deaths in San Diego County alone.
  • Emergency room visits have gone from a little over ten thousand, to well over twelve and a half thousand
  • Increased potency and availability have resulted in higher meth-related deaths
  • Most meth users are long-term, middle-aged users who have serious health issues due to their drug use.

Why Treatment Isn’t Cutting It

As with the rest of the nation, there is a high demand for reasonably priced substance abuse treatment facilities. With the level of meth-related deaths in the San Diego County, there aren’t enough beds to properly treat the number of people who are currently suffering from addiction.

Not to mention, many of these meth users have been long-term users, which has cut them off from otherwise being able to hold jobs, which results in a lack of health insurance coverage. There are several state-run, free facilities, but they are experiencing so much overflow already, many people who want to get sober can end up waiting months for an open spot.

girl holding bag of meth
How to Know if Your Loved One is Abusing Meth

With the rates of meth-related deaths being so high, it can be helpful to know if your loved one who is struggling with addiction might be using meth. Here are some helpful signs, both physical and mental, to look out for.

Loss of Appetite

Significant Weight Loss

Severe Mood Swings

Change/Lack of Sleeping Patterns

Tremors or Convulsions

Erratic Behavior

Thoughts of Grandiosity

Increased Anxiety or Paranoia

Hallucinations

Body Sores from Picking

Tooth Decay

Sunken Face

Breathing Issues

Violent Behavior

Feeling of Bugs on Skin

Recovery IS Possible

There is a high percentage of people in sobriety who are recovering from heavy meth use. Many people who are now in the rooms have come back from close calls with meth-related deaths via mixing heroin into their methamphetamine. If these people have been able to recover, anyone can. The issue here is not IF they can recover, it is WHEN. For many people, the point of sobriety doesn’t come until a person has hit a complete bottom.

The tricky thing about methamphetamine is that it creates such intense delusions in the minds of those who abuse it, and many people find it difficult to escape the torment, thinking their only solution is continued use. This can be a very scary process to watch a family member or loved one go through, but there is hope. Southern California is known for its strong recovery community, with constant access to AA and NA meetings every day of the week. The suffering of addiction and the threat of meth-related death doesn’t have to be the final word for your loved one.

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