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Methamphetamine Driving Overdose Stats in Rural Areas

A new report from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) shows methamphetamines to be a significant driver of overdoses in rural areas of the U.S.

“Among people who use drugs in rural communities, methamphetamine use is pervasive,” said Todd Korthuis, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine at the OHSU School of Medicine and head of addiction medicine at OHSU. “This has been a West Coast problem for a long time, but now we see methamphetamine use in rural communities across the United States.”[1]

The study[2] suggests that the most significant overdose risk is among those who intentionally or unintentionally combine methamphetamines and opioids.

One of the growing challenges around meth use is the rising incidence of fentanyl contamination. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin – and deadly.

Twenty-two percent of those using meth and opioids reported overdosing in the past six months. In one recent study of fatal drug overdoses involving methamphetamine, opioids were involved in 64.7% of cases. [3]

According to a separate report, “the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving psychostimulants, including methamphetamine, increased 10-fold from 0.5 per 100 000 people in 2009 to 5.0 per 100 000 people in 2019.”[4]

Hardest hit are individuals in economic distress in rural America (e.g., poverty level incomes, lack of adequate housing, etc.). The lack of access to treatment for substance use disorder in these regions only compounds the problem.

Korthuis and his team hope that understanding the patterns and personal costs of methamphetamine use in rural areas may contribute to more effective prevention efforts.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, or Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. And we come to you, regardless of where you live. Our unique in-home treatment model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. Please get in touch with one of our Recovery Specialists to learn more.


[1] Newswise, August 2022

[2] Korthuis, T. et al., Association of Methamphetamine and Opioid Use With Nonfatal Overdose in Rural Communities. Substance Use and Addiction. August 2022

[3] Dai Z, Abate MA, Groth CP, et al. Fentanyl and other opioid involvement in methamphetamine-related deaths. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2022;48(4):226-234.

[4] Korthuis, T. et al., Association of Methamphetamine and Opioid Use With Nonfatal Overdose in Rural Communities. Substance Use and Addiction. August 2022

Photo by Brandon Green on Unsplash

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