HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Meth Cases Put Strain On ERs
Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jan 2006
Source: USA Today (US)
Page: 1A - Front Page
Copyright: 2005 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY
Note: the report may be accessed from here
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Leading Cause of Drug-Related Visits

WASHINGTON -- Methamphetamine accounts for more emergency room visits
than any other drug, a survey released today by the National
Association of Counties finds.

The survey of 200 hospitals run or funded by counties in 39 states and
Washington, D.C., shows that 47% said methamphetamine is the top
illicit drug involved in emergency room visits. Sixteen percent said
marijuana, and 15% said cocaine.

"This is a national problem," association spokesman Tom Goodman says.
"The costs of methamphetamine are placing a great strain on county

Of the hospitals surveyed, 73% said emergency room cases involving
meth have increased over the past five years, and 56% said hospital
costs have risen because of the treatment of meth patients.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that can be injected,
snorted, smoked or swallowed. Most methamphetamine is manufactured in
Mexican labs and smuggled into the USA, the Drug Enforcement
Administration says. The drug also can be cooked up in home labs using
cold pills and other ingredients easily purchased.

Nearly 12 million people in the USA have used meth at least once in
their lives, according to responses to the 2004 National Survey on
Drug Use and Health conducted by the Department of Health and Human
Services. About 1.4 million had used meth in the past year.

A separate survey by the counties' association of 200 state and county
treatment program directors in 35 states and the District of Columbia
found that 69% reported an increased number of people seeking
treatment for meth use.

The problem appears to be particularly acute in the Midwest, where
meth's toll in rural communities is well documented. In Nebraska, for
example, nearly every hospital surveyed said up to 10% of ER cases
involved meth.

Bill Hansell, president of the National Association of Counties and a
county commissioner in Umatilla County, Ore., says meth abuse can
damage an entire community. Umatilla, a rural county 200 miles east of
Portland, makes up 2% of the state's population but accounted for
nearly a quarter of meth lab seizures last year.

Hansell says local governments pay to clean up toxic waste left by
home meth labs, to care for the neglected children of addicts, and to
provide treatment.

In September, the White House drug czar's office named Umatilla a High
Intensity Drug Trafficking Area entitled to federal funds. Tom Riley,
the drug czar spokesman, says grants and vouchers are offered to
communities with drug problems. "We are tailoring programs to be
responsive to local needs," he says. "In some parts of the country,
meth is a burning program. In other areas, mercifully not. And we
think we're meeting with some success with this approach."
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