Local officials say they are starting to see a shift in drug use.
Lt. Mike Justice, commander of the Union County Multi-Agency Drug Enforcement Task Force, said that while opioids remain the county’s largest drug problem, law enforcement is also starting to see an upswing in the use of methamphetamine.
“We are starting to see more and more and more of the meth,” said Justice. “Opioids in general are still number one, but meth is creeping up.”
According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, “Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a potent and highly addictive stimulant typically produced from over-the-counter cold medications and many other chemicals, including acids and rubbing alcohol. It is sold illegally in pill form, capsules, powder and chunks.”
Justice said the shift toward meth is to be expected. He explained that many drugs have about a 10-year cycle before they begin to decline. He said the opiate cycle will probably be longer, but meth is cutting into the use of heroin.
Justice explained there are several reasons for the switch, in addition to the natural process. He said there has been a focus on opiate abuse and legislation tracking the use and distribution of opioids. Additionally, he said many addicts are taking drugs that either blocks the user from getting high on opiates or that makes the user sick if combined with opiates. While heroin is an opiate, meth is not.
“If they are an addict, they are still looking for a fix,” Justice said. “They still have that addiction to drugs, they are just shifting from heroin and opioids to meth.”
Finally, he said heroin users are also afraid of heroin. Justice explained that recently Fentanyl and other chemicals have been added to some heroin, increasing the risk of overdosing.
“They are still afraid of dying at the end of the day,” Justice said.
Officials said the shift has consequences for the community.
“The big difference is that heroin, you have to buy it from someplace,” Justice said. “Meth can be made locally. That has a lot of hazards and a lot of harmful byproducts.”
He added, “With the increase in meth, we have to be concerned with the increase in meth labs” noting that a couple meth labs have already been located in Union County.
Justice said meth can be made in large batches in large labs or in containers as small as a soda can. Regardless of the size, the labs can be very volatile.
“It is the mixture of chemicals and the process that makes it so volatile,” Justice said.
DeWine’s office said, “the use of so many toxic chemicals in making meth unleashes dangerous airborne toxins; the drug’s unstable production can lead to fires and explosions.”
Justice also explained that meth has a different impact on users. He explained that opioids are depressants, while meth is a stimulant.
“Now you are going to have people up for days at a time and then they will crash and they will sleep for long periods, days, where their body is just exhausted,” Justice said.
The Union County Grand Jury recently indicted a series of individuals on meth related charges.
The grand jury indicted:
-Brittany Michelle Bothman, 28, of 10681 Kingston-Wheeler Road, Kingston. Bothman is charged with one count each of possession of heroin and aggravated possession of drugs. According to court documents, On Dec. 26, Bothman was arrested with both meth and less than one gram of heroin. If convicted on all counts, Bothman could face as many as 24 months in prison.
-Christopher Brian King, 30, of 283 N. Franklin St., Richwood. King is charged with one count aggravated possession of drugs. In February, King was arrested with meth. If convicted, King could face as many as 12 months in prison.
-Suzanne Lynne Snyder, 35, of 739 W. Fourth St., Marysville. Snyder was charged with two counts of aggravated possession of drugs. According to court documents, on July 25, Snyder was arrested with methamphetamine as well as methadone, an opioid medication used to reduce withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other drugs.
-Mohammed I. Moidudin, 39, of Sylvania. Moidudin is charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of aggravated possession of drugs. According to court documents, Moidudin was arrested Sept. 3, following a traffic stop. He allegedly had meth and PCP in the vehicle. If convicted on all charges, Moidudin could face as many as 30 months in prison.
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