Meth making a comeback

The opioid epidemic that is the scourge of communities throughout this region seems to be abating as addicts are seeking “safer” less deadly drugs to feed their habits. As a result, methamphetamine — a once popular drug of choice that all but disappeared from this area as a result of first the prescription drug and then the heroin and other opioids epidemics — is making a comeback.

“We’ve seen a change in the drug trade,” said Boyd County Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods. “The people that were overdosing, they’re switching. They (meth users) believe they’re less likely to overdose. But something they don’t take into account, they can still overdose on it, and they’re much more likely to end up dying from an illness after repeated use.”

Woods said 80 percent of his office’s undercover buys are now for meth. This time last year, heroin was purchased 80 percent of the time during undercover operations.

The meth now on the street should not be confused with the methamphetamine that plagued this region in the days before first the prescription drug and the opioid epidemics became commonplace in that region. That meth back then was typically homemade varieties concocted in kitchens, motel rooms and other places with the right equipment by untrained people using ingredients then common in household products. Such so-called “shake-n-bake” operations have all but disappeared and the meth now on the streets is crystal meth, also known as “ice.”

“The shake-n-bake labs, those kind of went out in 2014,” said Woods. “The meth they’re bringing in here now is almost pure. Sometimes crystal clear as a glass.”

Methamphetamine may be a little less deadly than heroin and other opioids in the immediate term but make no mistake about it — it is a devastating scourge that will ruin peoples’ lives in short order. There is a mortifying irony in America’s drug epidemic in that now meth is considered a safer drug. This speaks volumes to the lethal potency of the heroin and fentanyl now on the streets. Meth is a highly addictive drug that can and does destroy lives and lead to death. The addict using meth instead of heroin is like the alcoholic switching to another type of alcohol because it is “safer.” It doesn’t work. Just as alcoholics who switch their type are still alcoholics, opioid users who switch to meth are still addicts.

The resurgence of meth is further evidence that the drug problem is never-ending. Just as prescription drug addicts switched to heroin when new laws made it cheaper than prescription drugs, those who profit by feeding the drug habits of others will always find a new way to keep the addict high.

The only real solution to the drug epidemic is educating young people about the perils of drug use and to help addicts kick their habits.

The Daily Independent of Ashland