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Published: Monday, November 18, 2019 @ 11:00 AM
— Opioids have the gripped the Miami Valley community in recent years, but now area law enforcement officials and substance abuse professionals are worried about the resurgence of another drug — meth.
When the drug first hit the area about 15 years, most meth was made locally, with police wearing hazmat suits and heavy protective gear to handle evidence.
Now, it’s coming from across the border, Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck told News Center 7.
Psychotic episodes and irrational behaviors are common among meth users, which is why law enforcement and mental health and substance abuse experts are deeply concerned about growing evidence of the drug’s comeback.
More meth in the community means more people are at risk of becoming aggressive, delusional, violent or experiencing “meth psychosis,” the symptoms of which resemble paranoid schizophrenia.
“A person using high amounts of meth will be very ramped up, very hyperactive and that tends to lead to increased interactions with others that can be dangerous,” said Jodi Long, the associate director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).
Meth users who are addicted or who go on long binges tend to commit more serious and violent crimes than people addicted to other types of drugs, law enforcement officials said.
“With heroin, we’re mainly worried about people dying,” said Streck. “With meth, you worry about car pursuits, robberies and stabbings and things like that.”
Around late 2017, drug cartels started pushing meth much harder because so much of the community’s and law enforcement’s focus was on combating the opioid epidemic, said Sheriff Streck.
“We’re seeing it more on the street, we’re seeing it more in the jail,” he said.
Dealers and drug cartels are mixing fentanyl in with meth and other drugs to make them more powerful and addictive, and meth already is much stronger than when people used to make it in mobile labs, basements and garages, Streck said.
With opioids, people tend to fall into a stupor, Streck said, but with meth, it’s just the opposite.
People are up for days on end. They are on edge. They are nervous, antsy. They often pick at their skin.
Meth users have been responsible for robberies, police pursuits, assaults and are far more of a “fight risk” when they are arrested and come into the Montgomery County Jail, Streck said.
Meth users incarcerated at the jail can be in a state of psychosis for 24 to 48 hours, during which time they can be stimulated, jumpy or combative, he said.
News Center 7 I-Team’s Jim Otte spoke to one area woman and former meth user about her struggle to get her life back. Tune in Monday, Nov. 18, at 5:30 p.m. for more details.