Meth abuse causes more emergency room visits than all other drugs

Need for meth treatment programs growing dramatically

Two new surveys released today by the National Association of Counties (NACo) show that methamphetamine abuse continues to have a devastating effect on America’s communities.

One survey, “The Effect of Meth Abuse on Hospital Emergency Rooms,” revealed that there are more meth-related emergency visits than for any other drug and the number of these visits has increased substantially over the last five years. The second survey, “The Challenge of Treating Meth Abuse,” showed that the need for treatment programs for meth addiction is growing dramatically and lack of funding is an obstacle in meeting this demand.

“There is no question that meth abuse is having a devastating effect on America’s communities,” said Bill Hansell, President of NACo and Commissioner in Umatilla County, Ore. “Some states have enacted legislation that has been effective in reducing the number of local labs that produce meth. But officials in two of those states have said that the number of users has not been reduced. We still have a fight on our hands. The vast majority of meth being used today is being imported into our country. We have to find a way to treat those people that have become addicted and prevent others from becoming addicted.”

Both surveys were conducted in late 2005. The results of the emergency room survey are based on 200 responses from hospital emergency room officials in 39 states. Most of the hospitals participating in the survey are either county owned or operated. The second survey asked 200 county behavioral health officials in 26 states about drug treatment programs and how they have been affected by the meth epidemic.

A factor affecting treatment programs is that treatment for meth addiction is different from other drugs. 54% of the officials reported that the success rate is different and 44% said that the length of time in the program is longer for meth addicts. Meth users seeking treatment require special protocols and longer treatment periods than users of other drugs. said. “We hope that he will recognize the need for more funding for treatment.”

This is the second set of surveys that NACo has released on meth abuse. In July 2005, NACo released the results of two surveys it conducted on the impact of meth. The surveys reported responses from county sheriffs and police departments and from child welfare officials. The survey of 500 sheriffs and police departments showed that meth abuse is the top drug problem facing counties in America.

In an alarming number of meth arrests, there is a child living in the home. Often, these children suffer from neglect and abuse. 40% of the counties where child welfare activities are the responsibility of the county reported that out of home child placements have increased because of meth, according to the second survey released in July.
Source: January 18, 2006

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