ERs see spike in meth-related hospitalizations

The number of hospitalizations attributed to methamphetamines has jumped by 245 percent due to the opioid epidemic overshadowing increased meth use, according to a study published in JAMA.

Here are five things to know:

1. The increased hospitalizations are attributed to the amphetamines, which are prescribed legally to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are a main component in making methamphetamine.

2. Health officials and the police link the increase in patients hospitalized due to meth use to opioid-limiting legislation, which makes opioids harder to obtain. Former opioid users have turned to meth as a cheaper alternative.

3. Medical examiners indicated overdoses attributed to meth have surpassed those from heroin. Texas, Colorado, California and most of the western states saw an increase in meth use.

4. The cost of amphetamine-related hospitalizations also increased from $436 million in 2003 to about $2.2 billion by 2015. Besides the cost of the drug, emergency departments saw an increase in admitted patients who were agitated, paranoid and aggressive. Police and paramedics have arrested suspects with heart rates so high they were taken to a hospital to receive medical clearance before being taken to jail.

5. Unlike opioids, meth addiction cannot be treated with medication. Patients most commonly receive treatment at centers. But meth does not have the same increase in resources as the bolstered efforts brought on by opioid legislation.

"There is not a day that goes by that I don’t see someone acutely intoxicated on methamphetamine," Tarak Trivedi, MD, an emergency room physician in Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties, told Kaiser Health News. "It’s a huge problem, and it is 100 percent spilling over into the emergency room."

More articles on opioids:

Vermont hospital's needle-exchange program offers addiction treatment, too
Opioid prescriptions fall by 25%, Scripps Health reports
Sackler family faces legal action over role in opioid epidemic

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