Gateway in Jacksonville seeing flip in trend: less reported opioid use, more meth use

By Gary Scott on January 25, 2019 at 10:23am

Recent reports from the CDC suggest that opioid overdoses are down both nationally and statewide, and that perhaps Illinois has started to mend its ongoing opioid crisis.

While the number of accidental overdoses due to opioid use are down both nationally and in Illinois, there are also new numbers from the Gateway Foundation here in Jacksonville that reveal a new, perhaps equally dangerous trend of west central Illinoisans moving away from opiate use and increasingly using drugs like methamphetamine.

Dr. Tom Britton is the CEO of the Gateway Foundation, which has a number of drug abuse treatment facilities throughout Illinois, including the new center in Jacksonville. When it comes to the numbers for the Jacksonville and surrounding area, Dr. Britton says the trend is rather disturbing.

“The trends that we’re seeing down in the Jacksonville area at our Gateway Foundation sites are really alarming, because only 9-12 months ago, 60 percent or so of the people that we were treating, opioids were the primary drug that they reported using. It’s flipped now, to where (opioid use) is only about 30 percent, and the methamphetamine has replaced almost that entire gap. My theory on it is that methamphetamine is cheaper, it’s available, and people are scared of the overdose risk (of opiates). But what needs to be really in the front of the minds of people is that methamphetamine is tremendously addictive, it’s very quickly addictive, and it’s also an overdose risk,” says Dr. Britton.

Dr. Britton discusses some of the numbers from the recent CDC report that shows that opioid-related overdoses are on the downward trend nationally.

“I think you’re asking the right question, which is: is the problem of addiction, opioid overdose getting better or worse? What we do know is that the death rate (from opioid overdoses) has slowed, so year over year it’s been going up dramatically, but the number of people dying went up little last year.However, the new normal, over 2,200 people died in Illinois last year. But the bigger issue is that overdoses themselves have gone up, hospital admissions, EMS responses, ER admissions have all gone up for overdoses. So the biggest difference that’s reduced the death rate is the wider access to the overdose-reversal drug called ‘Narcan,'” Dr. Britton explains.

For individuals seeking the treatment services offered at the Gateway Foundation, contact the Jacksonville facility at 217-243-8849.