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Meth and cocaine have been making a comeback, and in a big way here in Georgia. Did you know there has been a 250% rise in meth and cocaine-related deaths nationwide in the past several years? And Georgia has seen yearly meth-related deaths triple from 2010 to 2018. Even 20% of fatal police shootings in Atlanta involved an individual getting violent and acting out of control while on meth.
While the media and legislators continue to talk about the opioid crisis, Georgia has seen rising waves of both meth and cocaine.
What’s Going On?
The fact is that our state actually did an amazing job of driving out individual meth producers here in Georgia back in the early 2000s when it was the drug of choice. All those meth labs in trailers, shady hotel rooms, and people’s houses were driven out.
The problem is that that simply drove production to Mexico, where they can make it in mass quantities and even cheaper. It’s so cheap to make, dealers are known to hand out free samples of new product.
Columbia had record coca crops the past few years, driving a huge surplus into the US (most cocaine in the US comes from Columbia originally).
To top it all off, there are even reports of meth and cocaine being mixed with the ultra-potent fentanyl, carfentanyl, and other synthetic opioids. Basically, people are overdosing on both drugs.
The Difference Between Meth, Cocaine, and Opioids
Opioids are depressants. They calm you down and mellow you out. Meth and cocaine are the exact opposite. They’re stimulants and hype you up. Remember the fatal shootings involving meth, you can read stories of officers in Atlanta having offenders literally bust out bullet proof glass and squirm out of a cop car. One offender even managed to get into the front seat while officers were outside and started driving the car, trying to run them over!
If used for extended periods of time, stimulant users may not sleep for days at a time (sometimes called “tweaking”). The constant state of hyper-awareness and lack of sleep can even lead to psychosis, so this is particularly dangerous.
Why Do People Use Meth & Cocaine?
Regular users typically prefer their pick-me-up effects. For example, some individuals may take a hit of meth or cocaine to get going in the morning and then heroin at night to bring them back down.
Due to its ability to seemingly provide massive amounts of energy, they can be a favorite as party drugs to stay up all night. Others, just like the feeling of power it gives them. Coke users in particular will often talk about a “feeling of invincibility.”
Additionally, unlike alcohol or opioids, there is not the same intense hangover or withdrawal after short-term use.
Who Gets Addicted to Meth & Cocaine?
While many people have images in their heads of strung out, gaunt individuals with scabby skin and yellow teeth, you only see that with the heaviest of users (which are the ones that tend to be portrayed in the media).
The reality is that, just like alcohol, many people use meth or cocaine recreationally and such evidence of severe physical degradation is absent. In fact, meth use among those who are employed is actually higher than meth use among the unemployed. Cocaine, in particular, tends to be more of a designer drug favored by upper classes simply because its cost can be unaffordable for those without means.
So don’t be fooled into thinking that just because someone you know hasn’t lost a bunch of weight or doesn’t have yellowing teeth that they may not be a user of such drugs.
Here is some demographic data:
- Men tend to use more than women, BUT female users are much more likely to end up in the hospital (partly because some women may use as a weight loss drug).
- Gay men are more likely to have used meth than heterosexual men.
- Employed individuals use both meth and cocaine more than unemployed.
- Meth users tend to start older than other illicit drugs at an average age of 23.
Regardless of some demographics that may have a higher tendency for use, anyone can become addicted to meth or cocaine. So it’s important to know the signs to watch for if you suspect someone you know has a problem.
What Are the Initial Signs of Use?
While late stage meth or cocaine addiction can be pretty obvious with massive weight loss, pale skin, bloody noses, and even missing teeth, catching it early is more important.
Here are some things to look for:
- Smoking: aluminum foil strips, glass tubes, torch lighters, straws, chipped or melted light bulbs.
- Snorting: new mirror in the room, straws, hollowed-out pens, or rolled-up bills.
- Injecting: syringes, big rubber bands/arm bands, spoons for cooking.
- Frequently up very late with high energy levels.
- Jerky motions or very fast, even jumbled, speech.
How Does Addiction Treatment Differ for Stimulants?
Unlike alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines, you do not need a medical detox. Individuals can enter treatment immediately.
There are no medications such as Vivitrol, Suboxone, or Methadone that are sometimes used in addiction treatment for opioids. This makes the cognitive behavioral work of the utmost importance for those addicted to stimulants.
Meth, in particular, can seriously affect the brain’s dopamine levels and the individual’s nervous system for a year or more. This is why meth has one of the highest relapse rates of any drug. So stimulant users often need much more extended support post treatment to stay in recovery.
Fortunately, the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that work for other substances, also work for stimulants. So there is no need to find a specialized program per se.
However, the possibility for psychosis with extended use makes it important to find a facility that has clinicians licensed to treat dual diagnosis (mental health issues co-occurring alongside addiction issues).
Where to Get Help for Stimulant Addiction Georgia?
Being in the hands of highly experienced and compassionate staff nestled in the peaceful foothills of northern Georgia can help the transition to sobriety be an easier one. Call Black Bear Lodge today at 706-914-2327 to help you or a loved one recover from stimulant abuse and addiction.