Sen. Feinstein calls on Washington to address meth addiction

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U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is calling on Washington to address the emerging threat methamphetamine addiction has become.

In an Op-Ed published Dec. 29 in the L.A. Times, Feinstein said that although opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl continue to dominate addiction news, methamphetamine is becoming a problem, causing tens of thousands of fatalities each year.

“Meth addiction isn’t new, but it has quickly emerged in recent years as a particularly deadly threat, and Los Angeles has been hard-hit. According to county statistics, between 2008 and 2018, meth-related deaths in L.A. increased tenfold, from 43 to 435. By 2018, meth was involved in 44% of all drug overdose deaths in Los Angeles County,” Feinstein wrote. “Last summer, Mark Casanova, of Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, told The Times that meth accounted for 70% of drug use among L.A.’s homeless population. Between 2005 and 2019, according to county data, more than 185,000 individuals who entered publicly funded treatment programs in Los Angeles were admitted for meth.”

The problem is not limited to California, she said. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2008 and 2017, found that the number of people admitted nationwide for meth-related treatment rose 43 percent, from 260,000 to 373,000. The number who were admitted for meth treatment that were also using heroin increased by 530 percent from 14,000 to more than 88,000.

In September, Feinstein and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the Methamphetamine Response Act, which will direct the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop a plan to address the growing use of meth. While the bill passed the Senate, it has not yet passed the House and is unlikely to pass before the 116th Congress ends.

Feinstein said that Congress must act to ensure the drug control policy office declares meth an emerging drug threat, and then develop and implement a plan specific to the meth threat, including plans on how to reduce demand, expand prevention and treatment programs, and reduce supply.

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