LAS VEGAS — The state of Nevada’s amphetamine death rate leads the nation and soon will eclipse the state’s prescription opioid death rate if current trends continue, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the state, the death rate attributed to “psychostimulants” — a class of drugs that includes methamphetamine, ecstasy and ADHD prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin — hit 7.5 per 100,00 in 2016, according to the report. That was up nearly 32 percent from 2015.
The report studied data from 31 states and Washington, D.C., the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .
“I’ve been doing this job six and a half years, and for the last three of four years, we’ve seen the numbers rising,” said Jamie Ross, executive director of the PACT Coalition, a drug prevention nonprofit in Southern Nevada. “It unfortunately doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.”
Meth is cheaper on the streets than alternatives like cocaine or heroin, so it’s easier to get, said Keith Carter, deputy director of the Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.
“The No. 1 drug seized by all of our task forces is meth,” Carter said. “The meth being manufactured in Mexico is very high quality meth, and very potent.”
The drugs can cause a heart attack in someone with an underlying heart condition, like an arrhythmia, or stroke in those with high blood pressure. Prolonged use also can lead to kidney failure, said Dr. Jonathan Floriani, a UNLV psychiatry assistant professor who consults at University Medical Center as an emergency psychiatrist.
Jeff Iverson, founder of Freedom House Sober Living in Las Vegas who has been sober 12 years after battling a meth addiction, said he also has heard stories of addicts who died in accidents while hallucinating from the drug.
If prevention resources were devoted equally to opioid and amphetamine overdose, that could cut down on abuse and, ultimately, death, experts said.
Public officials have convened recently to discuss solutions to the opioid epidemic in Nevada and the state Legislature passed a law that took effect Jan. 1 that puts restrictions on prescriptions for the drug.
“I don’t want one to be more or less important than the other,” Ross said. “I would love if we could have an open and honest dialogue about this.”
Nevada was one of 14 states which saw an increase in the psychostimulant-related overdose death rate in 2016. After Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma tied for second-highest at 7.1 deaths per 100,000.