CLEVELAND, Ohio – The prevalence of methamphetamine increased last year in Cuyahoga County, but the medical examiner’s office is not seeing an increase in deaths caused by the drug, officials said.
Cuyahoga County is not immune to a recent resurgence of the powerful stimulant across the nation. Law enforcement officers are seizing the drug – which is found in forms like crystal meth and fake ecstasy tablets – more frequently, Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson said Wednesday in a news release.
“We have not seen an increase in deaths from methamphetamine – our overarching problem there remains the opioids like fentanyl and the re-emergence of cocaine,” Gilson said. “But the appearance of methamphetamine is disturbing, as it has disastrous effects on people’s personal health and social well-being.”
The medical examiner’s office tested 181 samples of crystal meth and 135 fake ecstasy tablets that law enforcement officers seized last year, Gilson said. Those numbers represented a significant increase from 2016, when the medical examiner’s office tested 37 samples of crystal meth and 77 fake ecstasy tablets, he said.
Gilson did not provide statistics on the number of deaths attributed to methamphetamine in recent years. A spokesman for the medical examiner’s office could not immediately provide more information.
The medical examiner’s office released the statement a day after the New York Times reported that methamphetamine is cheaper, purer, and more lethal than it has ever been. In some areas of the U.S. the drug is causing more deaths than the opioid crisis that has wreaked havoc in Northeast Ohio and elsewhere, the Times reported.
Methamphetamine is a highly-addictive drug that causes dangerous weight loss, severe dental decay, open sores, heart damage and brain damage, Gilson said.
The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network reported last year that meth’s availability had increased across the state, according to The Plain Dealer.
Heroin and fentanyl remain the deadliest drugs in Cuyahoga County. The medical examiner’s office has not released final statistics for 2017, but Gilson predicted overdose deaths would increase 25 percent over 2016’s record total of 666.