America Has Two Drug Epidemics

While fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are getting massive amounts of attention from policy makers, law enforcement, and the public; methamphetamine use is surging in parts of the U.S., particularly the West.

As reported by April Dembrosky of KQED, “Across the country, overdose deaths involving meth more than quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Admissions to treatment facilities for meth are up 17%. Hospitalizations related to meth jumped by about 245% from 2008 to 2015. And throughout the West and Midwest, 70% of local law enforcement agencies say meth is their biggest drug threat.”

While methamphetamine is not as lethal as fentanyl, the death rate for meth has been rising. 47,600 people died of opioid-related overdoses in 2017 compared with 10,333 deaths involving meth. Some of the increase may be caused by meth being contaminated by fentanyl.

On any given day, law enforcement, EMTs, firefighters, and other first responders may encounter small or large quantities of meth, fentanyl, or other drugs that pose a threat to them as well as the public.

Responders should have training in assessing the potential risks based on initial observation of the suspected substances. For example, if there is only a very small quantity of loose powder, responders should don the recommended Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), and test the substance with easy-to-use fentanyl strips.

If responders encounter a larger quantity, they should contact a HazMat team and allow them to test the substance with more sophisticated equipment.

First Line Utilization Academy offers a four-hour course in Synthetic Opioid Safety which provides safety instructions and recommendations based on available test data, decontamination best practices, laboratory data, and lessons learned from the field. Training is conducted on-site at your location.

For more information on First Line Utilization Academy and all the courses they offer, click here

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