STATEWIDE (WGME) – Meth use is on the rise in Maine and drug agents say it is more potent than ever and that the resurgence of the drug is leading to more overdose deaths.
“Patients who had been addicted to options are now starting to turn to methamphetamine,” said Dr. Jonathon Fellers, a substance psychiatrist.
Last year, Maine saw 26 drug overdose deaths related to methamphetamine, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office. Just four years ago, there were none.
Fellers said he has seen the resurgence first hand and that the effects on those addicted are astounding.
“Unlike heroin, where people can nod off and can overdose because they’re not breathing enough, meth is really the polar opposite. It excites the central nervous system. People don’t sleep for days,” he said.
The resurgence of meth in the state of Maine also is affecting the city of Portland, city officials said.
Violent attacks at the city’s homeless shelter on Oxford Street have also been on the rise, said city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin.
“We actually have had a few staff who have needed medical attention because of their injuries so certainly our priority is to make sure those staff are safe,” she said.
In addition, criminal trespass notices at the shelter are up as well, increasing 50 percent from last year.
As a result, the city is working to give staff more training to identify those under the influence.
“They certainly have been given the kind of whole toolbox but as we see changes in substance use behavior, the things that people are using, it’s good for them to get updated information,” Grondin said.
The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said its seizures of meth are also on the rise and they want to make sure they have everything they need to address the escalating issue.