It’s a problem that plagued the country nearly thirty years ago taking the lives of many celebrities like John Belushi and River Phoenix.
AS the deadly opioid epidemic continues, researchers are finding that many users are turning to another drug: methamphetamine.
Referred to as “speedballing,” it’s the mixture of an opiate and a stimulant. When combined, it can amplify the actions of both drugs.
Back in the Tri-State, local treatment centers are seeing an increase in this type of abuse.
“It’s been a vicious cycle of back and forth, back and forth,” Matthew Keach, former drug user.
For Matthew Keach of Evansville, he knows first hand the battle with dual addiction.
He says right before he started college, he was in a car accident with the doctor prescribing him painkillers.
“After taking those narcotics, I had felt a new sense of being,” says Keach. “Like I had found myself.”
He says his addiction started with smaller scale opioids, then to heroin, and eventually combining meth and heroin together.
“It gave me the energy and it gave me a sense of confidence,” says Keach. “I was ready to go out and be sociable, talk to people, and if I didn’t have those two together I became a recluse. I would isolate myself, want to be alone.”
The combination of both meth and opioids can amplify the effects of both or counteract the negative effects of one of the substances.
“They’re basically bringing their levels from way down to way up or they are way up and ready to crash down,” says Keach.
Keach is not alone.
Local treatment centers say this is becoming an increasing issue in the Tri-State.
“We help them with an opioid use disorder and then they end up relapsing onto methamphetamine,” says Nate Boyett, Boyett Treatment Center owner. “That’s what we see a lot and that’s what we’re struggling with as treatment providers.”
In Vanderburgh County, the coroner says they’re already seeing an up tick in drug overdoses this year with meth usage becoming a growing issue.
“With the availability of meth in the area, a lot of the times those temptations are just right there in front of them, that access,” says Boyett. “Meth is everywhere. It’s all over the Tri-State.”
In the U.S. recent studies show more opioid users using meth as well, up from 19% to 34% in 2017.
“It can kill you especially when you’re mixing it with heroin or pain pills even,” says Boyett. “Just if you’re mixing it with lower tabs or perocets. It can become deadly.”
Keach says he’s been sober since 2017.
Boyett says the best way to start combating the epidemic is with a conversation.
He says locally there are also many resources to help those battling addiction.
A link to the Boyett Treatment Center can be found here.