Nov. 14, 2022 – The drug combination put him at the center of a deepening complication in the nation’s overdose crisis. The pairing of meth, which can also cause psychosis and erratic, risky behavior, and opioids such as fentanyl, of which even small doses can prove fatal, is among the nation’s fastest-rising causes of overdose deaths. 

One in five of the total fatal overdoses last year involved an opioid and a psychostimulant, a drug class dominated by meth, preliminary federal data show. A decade earlier, about 2% of drug deaths involved such combinations. Sometimes meth users are accidentally exposed to fentanyl. But many users are purposefully using meth and opioids simultaneously or in sequence in search of balancing or offsetting effects, researchers say. Meth, a stimulant that makes people feel energized, also can make it easier for users to consume greater quantities of opioids, said Christopher Jones, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. And mental-health issues that meth sometimes causes—such as paranoia and hallucinations—can compound risks for dual users, researchers say.

The rise in fatalities involving stimulants, often combined with opioids, has created a fourth wave of the decades-long U.S. overdose-death crisis, according to Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of addiction medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Deaths from combinations of opioids and cocaine, another stimulant, are also climbing.

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