Study suggests Springfield, Roseburg are regional 'hot spots' for meth, opioids

The study also found a disturbing trend of combining methamphetamines and opioids across the state.

Posted: Sep 19, 2019 11:42 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Roseburg and Springfield are regional "hot spots" where methamphetamine use is "particularly prevalent," a study published by the University of Maryland suggests.

The study, which was based on focus groups and interviews with treatment providers and patients in treatment, also found a disturbing trend of combining meth and opioids across the state.

Regional and Geographic Findings Regarding Methamphetamine Use (University of Maryland Study)

  • Though methamphetamine use is widespread throughout the state, participants identified regional hotspots where methamphetamine use is particularly prevalent:
  • Southern Oregon (Roseburg, Oregon) and Springfield, Oregon.
  • In these regional hotspots there is widespread methamphetamine use, including intergenerational and familial use.
  • Methamphetamine use is often tied to intergenerational trauma
  • In Southern Oregon, many people worked in the logging industry. Because of the demands of physical labor related to this industry, people were using methamphetamine widely to help with physically-demanding work. The decline of the logging industry has resulted in people turning to the methamphetamine industry as an income-generating strategy and for recreational use.
  • Local idioms for methamphetamine include: “s**t” and “white.”

Dr. Eric Geisler from Serenity Lane, a Lane County treatment center that participated in the study, said access to these drugs is the biggest problem.

"We've sort of termed this the fourth wave of the addiction crisis," he said. "We're seeing a drop in the prescription drug opioid overdoses (but now) we are starting to see an increased use of methamphetamines."

Geisler said there are things the community can do to alleviate the epidemic.

"I think the biggest thing we can do is lower barriers to access to treatment," he said. "When a patient presents to the emergency department or has an interaction with law enforcement, get them into treatment as quickly as possible."

Pete Kerns has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience including as chief of police in Eugene. As the president of Serenity Lane, he said the problem has been consistent, but where the drugs are coming from has changed significantly.

He said they used to be produced, sold and consumed in Oregon, but now they mostly come from California and Mexico.

"The better funded that law enforcement is the more we find, or the more law enforcement finds, but that isn't necessarily an indicator of how much is there, it's more an indicator of our ability to be productive," he said.

Roseburg and Springfield officials said the study was "not statistically valid" and noted it was based on a small sample size.

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