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Pierce County deputies not surprised by rise in meth use

The number of homeless deaths in King County is on the rise, and an increase in meth use could be partially to blame. (WikiCommons/Jlcoving
LISTEN: Pierce County Sheriff spokesperson Ed Troyer explains rise in meth use

With so much attention on the opioid crisis, officials in Washington state were surprised to find there has been an uptick in meth appearing in the post-death toxicology reports of homeless people.

RELATED: Homeless deaths soar in King County as methamphetamine use is on the rise

But Pierce County deputies aren’t as surprised.

“Even if we bust somebody with 30 pounds in their trunk, it’s nothing. It’s just a little dent,” said Ed Troyer, a spokesperson for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. “… there’s just so much more (methamphetamine) coming out of other countries, mainly Mexico.”

“We don’t hear much about meth labs because they are pretty much non-existent,” he said. “We used to have 300-350 a year when people used to call us meth capital of America. But we put an end to that with our resources. But the problem now is that so much more meth is being made in Mexico and shipped up.”

Troyer says that cartels are using old cocaine distribution routes to get methamphetamine into the state.

Meth and heroin

Troyer says that methamphetamine and heroin come hand-in-hand as the region experiences a homelessness and addiction crisis.

“What we are finding out now is people high on both (meth and heroin),” Troyer said. “They are doing alcohol, meth, and heroin. Meth is a stimulant; heroin is going to be a depressant. When you mix the two together, you are not going to know what you are going to get until you deal with the person.”

“Meth has really dropped down in price,” he said. “You can get meth for hardly anything. Meth has dove down in price, and heroin has gone up in price. Heroin is still relatively cheap … so both heroin and meth are $5 drugs.”

A user can buy a 10th of a gram of heroin for about $10. That’s two hits for a normal user, and one hit for a heavy user, according to Troyer. That’s the same effect as taking a pain pill, which goes for about $80 on the street.

“When you hear of people addicted to pain pills, that’s no different than somebody who is sticking a needle in their arm,” Troyer explained. “The difference is the price. The person sticking a needle in their arm has a $20-30 a day habit, while the person taking pills may have a $300-a-day habit.”

“The homeless person with mental health problems gets their drugs by breaking in and getting drugs for $10-15,” he said. “And the urban professional can afford the $200-300 a day habit via a pill. But it’s still the same result as far as the body is concerned and we still have to deal with it medically.”

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