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As a reminder, the Drug Free Workplace program is a foundational prevention program that is designed to run in all our communities across the state of Georgia. There is no cost to prevention providers, or the local community, as the businesses and The Council on Alcohol and Drugs cover the costs associated with the program. The return on investment for businesses is a mandated 7.5% discount on workers compensation insurance. The return for prevention providers is simple. If we are successful out in the community but not in businesses, we will all fail at our overall objectives. For “50+ years” the National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, conducted by NIH with 70,000 people annually, has consistently revealed that 70% of people who use illegal drugs in America are “employed”. As a result, Drug Free Workplaces are a critical part of all of our prevention efforts. Please reach out to Chris Manning, at 706-254-8776 or via, to schedule Drug Free Workplace training in your community. He has a brand-new training on marijuana, CBD, and vaping that you are going to want to share across your entire community. I am also working closely with Chris to develop an Opioid and Fentanyl 1 Hour Training that meets Drug Free Workplace requirements.

Methamphetamine (Meth) Overdoses Nationwide
Meth use is increasing as a major cause of overdose deaths in America. Over the past 8 years, the number of deaths linked to meth has increased by more than 180%. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta reports that of the more than 96,000 Americans who died from drug overdoses during the past year, 20% of those fatalities involved meth. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth-related deaths almost tripled in the 5-year period leading up to the COVID19 pandemic and have steadily increased since then. Data shows that people reporting frequent meth use (100 days or more per year) rose by 66% between 2015 and 2019, and people reporting the use of meth and cocaine together increased by 60% during this period. Meth has changed in chemical structure from what it was ten years ago making it much more dangerous and resulting in not only more overdose deaths, but also increasing severe mental illness and homelessness problems. In Los Angeles for example, homelessness more than doubled over the past 10 years, and experts there say it is clearly due to an increase in meth addiction.

Meth and Mental Illness

Meth is a neurotoxin that causes steep deteriorations in mental health with symptoms of violence, paranoia, isolation, memory loss, and hallucinations. Many meth addicts develop schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Meth has also become even more problematic and deadly because users are mixing the drug with fentanyl, and it is well known that meth and opioid drugs interact in particularly toxic ways.

Law enforcement is reporting that meth users exhibit severe mental illness behaviors much more often than individuals who use crack cocaine or heroin. Researchers believe that meth may be causing long term schizophrenia that lasts even after a person has stopped using the drug. NIDA reports that “Methamphetamine use has also been linked to HIV transmission, as infectious diseases can spread by sharing injection equipment and through heightened unprotected sexual activity that is often associated with methamphetamine use. Previous studies have reported high rates of methamphetamine use among men who have sex with men, who also face higher rates of HIV transmission. This study found that the prevalence of methamphetamine injection was the highest among homosexual men. Moreover, methamphetamine use disorder without injection more than doubled among homosexual or bisexual men. It also more than tripled among heterosexual women and lesbian or bi-sexual women, and more than doubled among heterosexual men, further emphasizing the expansion of use across different groups.” Communities of color are experiencing the worst of the mental health impact and highest number of meth overdose deaths. Black Americans along with American Indians and Alaska Natives saw a tenfold increase in methamphetamine use since 2015. In some of these areas, it is even more difficult now for the truly mentally ill to get help, because treatment facilities are filled with people who are on meth.

Meth Is Easily and Readily Available and Affordable

Meth, unlike plant-based drugs liked marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, is a synthetic drug that can be made anywhere, quickly, and cheaply. Years ago, meth was made from ephedrine, the active ingredient in over-the-counter Sudafed. But as cities and counties nationwide cracked down on the sale of Sudafed, regulations made it more difficult to produce meth in that way and dealers turned to the “P2P method.” P2P meth is made in “super labs” using caustic chemicals that can be readily obtained. This easy availability of chemicals needed to produce meth substantially lowered the price and has contributed greatly to the methamphetamine problem in our country. P2P meth is also much more addictive and does more damage to the brain than ephedrine-based meth.

Meth’s Fast Path to Addiction & NO Treatment Available

Some people start out using meth socially, at very low levels, but then quickly progress to suffering from toxic delirium and ultimately to overdosing on the drug. As a result of this quick progression, Meth is now the leading cause of drug-related deaths in some states. One reason the meth crisis is so severe, is that there are currently no medications available to treat methamphetamine use disorder. After many years of effort, scientists have not found an equivalent of methadone or Suboxone to help stop meth cravings. Another reason is that the opioid epidemic in the U.S. has so overshadowed the meth problem that it is invisible to most Americans. Most of the limited funding available for drug prevention and treatment programs is currently being focused on the opioid epidemic. We must find a way to increase funding for meth prevention programs and make meth treatment and behavioral interventions more readily available in America. Programs like drug free workplace programs that make information and education available to help people understand what certain drugs can do to them, and how to stop using drugs, are also now more important than ever.

Preventing Opioid Overdose Deaths

There are actions we all can take to help prevent intentional and unintentional overdose deaths from opioids. It begins with treating those who are suffering from chronic emotional and physical pain with compassion and dignity without dismissing their need for mental health help and/or medical intervention. But more than just showing concern and understanding, we must take into consideration the realities, experiences, and perspectives of those who are at risk of overdose. Nationwide, we must work to expand access to evidence-based integrative medicine in prevention/intervention/treatment.

Call 911 in the event of an overdose. 911 Good Samaritan laws vary across the U.S. but each one is written with the goal of reducing barriers to calling 911 in the event of an overdose. This type of legislation can provide overdose victims and/or overdose bystanders with limited immunity from drug-related criminal charges and other criminal or judicial consequences that may otherwise result from calling first responders to the scene. But the first and most important step to take in saving the life of a person who is overdosing is to get them breathing again. If naloxone is not available, then CPR training is so valuable. If you are trained and comfortable doing so, you can do rescue breathing and/or chest compressions until the person overdosing wakes up. Rescue breathing and chest compressions, even with a breathing mask, may carry a risk for COVID-19 transmission, however, these techniques when correctly done can save lives, particularly if naloxone is not available.

Additional prescription drug abuse prevention measures include secure disposal. If any of your prescription drugs are expired, they should be disposed of in the correct way. Expired medication in most cases is not safe or effective. Make sure your prescription medicine is stored in the original packaging with the safety cap tightly secured and keep your medicine in a safe place out of the reach of children and pets. Store any prescription narcotics like morphine, opioids, or codeine in a locked cabinet, drawer, or safe. These painkillers are the most abused prescription medicines and are responsible for more than 75% of overdose deaths.

You should dispose of all unused or expired prescription medicine as soon as possible. Timely disposal of prescription drugs can reduce the risk of others taking the medication accidentally or misusing the medicine intentionally. The best and most environmentally friendly way to dispose of your prescription medication is through a drug take-back program. There are over 250 permanent drug disposal sites across the state in law enforcement offices, as well as many pharmacies and hospitals. In Georgia, you can access a list of drug disposal sites here: Additionally, the DEA hosts a National Rx Drug Take Back Day two times a year.

If there are no disposal sites in your area, there are ways to safely dispose of your medication at home. Be sure to read the packaging label on your medicine before discarding it. Using a drug disposal pouch, like Deterra or Element MDS Ready-Packs are the first option when not using a drug drop box. When not using a drug drop box or a disposal pouch then dispose of your medication in your household trash by following these four steps:

  1. Mix your medicine with dirt, cat litter, or old coffee grounds.
  2. Put the mixture in a container, such as a sealed plastic bag.
  3. Throw the container in your household trash.
  4. Scratch out all the personal information on the prescription label of your empty medication bottle to make it unreadable. Then dispose or recycle the empty medication bottle.

Opioids and Prescription Drug Addiction

Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. Opioid use disorder (OUD), often referred to as “opioid addiction,” occurs when attempts to cut down or control opioid use are unsuccessful, or when use results in social problems and a failure to fulfill obligations at work, school, and home. To avoid prescription drug addiction, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends talking to your doctor about ways to manage your pain that do not involve prescription opioids. Some of these options may work better and have fewer risks and side effects. Depending on the type of pain you are experiencing, options may include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy—a psychological, goal-directed approach in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress
  • Exercise therapy, including physical therapy
  • Medications for depression or for seizures
  • Interventional therapies (injections)
  • Exercise and weight loss
  • Other therapies such as acupuncture and massage

If opioid-based drugs are the only option available for pain treatment, talk to your doctor about your medical and mental health history, any medications you are taking, and if you or anyone in your family has a history of substance misuse or addiction. Never take opioids in higher amounts or more often than prescribed. Also ask about the serious side effects (like excessive sleepiness or craving more of the medication), so you and your family know when to call a doctor or go to the hospital. Always let your doctor know about any concerns you may have about taking prescription medicines. Tell your doctor if you continue to experience pain while taking opioids and discuss other ways to reduce your pain.

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