Meth-related fatalities have increased significantly in Florida, state officials report

Crystal metamphetamine. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Florida has been experiencing an escalation in deaths attributed to methamphetamine abuse, with the most recent available records reflecting 1,056 meth-related deaths during 2018 – a 23 percent increase compared to the year before.

Those numbers, contained in a report published in November by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Medical Examiners Commission, represent instances when methamphetamines were found in the user’s system following death.

Instances in which meth alone was found in the system spiked by 33 percent compared to 2017. Florida reported 858 deaths related to meth during 2017 and 619 deaths with meth alone in 2018. St. Petersburg and Leesburg led the death toll, with 78 in St. Pete and 71 in Leesburg.

The report, “Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners,” appeared in November, and offers a broad view of illicit drug use within the state, based on toxicology findings. In addition to the meth findings, the report warned against use of synthetic cannabis.

The report classifies meth within the amphetamines category – a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs called central nervous system stimulants known on the street as crank, speed, ice, and tina, health officials said.

The powerful stimulant comes in several forms: powder, liquid, pills, and crystal. The most common form of consumption is by smoking it, although users sometimes inject the drug.

Because the state of euphoria doesn’t last that long, people seeking to prolong the effect frequently overdose, which can cause death through strokes, heart attacks, or liver failure, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

People who inject methamphetamine are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, health officials noted.