Revival Transitional Living
The Cocaine and Methamphetamine Rise in Philadelphia

by Revival Transitional Living
on December 19, 2019

Cocaine and methamphetamine use have been on a steady rise in the city of Philadelphia. With the opioid crisis at the forefront and fentanyl deaths climbing daily, a new sneaky trend in drug use has occurred.

According to various physicians in Philadelphia hospitals, law enforcement officials and outreach workers who work closely with drug users, stimulant drug use has been on the steady increase. More and more people who struggle with substance use disorders are intentionally or unintentionally mixing amphetamine like drugs with opioids to get the opposite effect. These substance users are utilizing opioids to either “come down” off of their methamphetamine or cocaine high or they are using amphetamine like drugs that are mixed with drugs such as fentanyl and are unintentionally using the fatal drug.

Another likely culprit of the dangerous drug combination is the cost of methamphetamines generally being one of the cheapest drugs to use. People are stepping away from drugs like cocaine because they can get a similar effect with methamphetamines and the cost is much cheaper. In the city of Philadelphia, there is a steady increase of “pure” methamphetamine that is directly imported and trafficked from outside of the United States. This supply and demand market for drug users has made the numbers in stimulant drugs continue to increase. For a long time, there was a trend in drug users that would either stick to “downers” or “uppers” but the trend in the city is showing that people are using both stimulants and depressants together, which is a dangerous combination. The sudden increase of methamphetamine use amongst homeless people in places like Kensington is attributed to people wanting to stay awake in order to protect their belongings or place that they are staying on the street and the fear of what may happen to them if they fall asleep because of opioid use or sleep deprivation.

The struggle for people helping those with substance use disorders is the process of helping people who utilize different drugs is approached differently. When people with substance use disorder are identifying two very different types of drugs as their drug of choice, two different treatment approaches need to be used simultaneously. People who generally use opioids are a physical dependent and that needs to be treated with anti-craving medication and needs immediate medical attention to help diminish physical symptoms. Typically, users who struggle with methamphetamine and cocaine use have more of a mental dependency, which generally needs a whole behavior change and modification to happen in order for the person to recover. Another challenge to treatment providers is when someone comes to treatment addicted to one drug, sometimes they learn about other drugs and ways to use while they are in treatment from other drug users and that becomes appealing to the person struggling with substance use disorder. Therefore, the very place that people are in becomes the place that they learn more about drug use and they decide to abuse their time in treatment learning about drugs instead of taking the time to heel while staff and positive peers are available to help them through their difficult time.

The positive news is there are continued treatment models that are effective in order to resolve substance use disorders. Professionals recommend long-term treatment in most cases, specifically with time in a sober living home to help transition the person struggling back into society while being closely monitored and supported. Professionals now focus on trauma informed therapy and other effective therapy models that help treat the whole person and help people who are struggling with any type of drug, whether it be methamphetamines or opioids. Sober livings, treatment centers, detoxes, professionals, doctors and law enforcement have all aligned to at least try and help to diminish the substance use problem especially when there is a new trend in drug use like we are seeing with methamphetamines and cocaine.

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