Methamphetamine deaths spiking in Utah

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – For years, we’ve been hearing about the opioid crisis: a rise in addiction — and overdose — from prescribed painkillers and even heroin.

But another drug has been surging in popularity, even as the public focus has been on opioids. 


Take, for example, overdose deaths in Utah connected to methamphetamine.

In 2008, there were 45 “occurent methamphetamine deaths,” according to the Dept. of Health.

By 2014, there were more than twice that, at 93.

In 2016, there were 141 deaths in Utah related to methamphetamine.

“Recently, we’ve been seeing an increase coming across I-80,” said Sgt. Randy Riches, with Utah Highway Patrol.

“The meth loads are more frequent, they’re larger,” added Riches.

UHP seized about 157 pounds of meth in Utah in 2014; that number was 256 pounds in 2015.

In 2016 and 2017, UHP confiscated about 500 pounds of meth each year.

“Several years ago, we used to have the in-home meth labs, the mobile meth labs — where people were cooking their own meth,” said Riches.

“Since they banned the pre-cursors to make that, a lot of stuff’s being shipped up,” he added.

Shipped up from Mexico, according to Rich, to Southern California. And from there — it ends up on the highways of Utah.

“While you’re high, you feel like you’re on top of the world,” said Stephanie World, a recovering addict who has been sober for about a year.

“One thing it did with my parenting — it made me very detached from my kids,” said World.

Her kids were taken from her as her addiction worsened.

“The drug becomes more important than going to work, and money toward drugs becomes more important than paying your rent,” said World.

“I’ve done every drug under the sun. But that’s the one that really got me.”

Now, she is living a journey of hope.

She’ s now been sober for a year, thanks to Odyssey House.

And, she says, she will never again take for granted having her kids — or her sobriety.

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