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Methamphetamine Deaths Soar, Hitting Black And Native Americans Especially Hard

When Winnie White Tail convened a new session of inpatient substance use treatment last month for members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes, she found that roughly half her clients were struggling with methamphetamine addiction.

“It’s readily available, it’s easy to get,” White Tail says. She’s a Cheyenne tribal member herself and runs the George Hawkins Memorial Treatment Center in Clinton, Okla.

“I believe it’s deeply entrenched across the community — not just in Native communities,” she tells NPR.

A study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests methamphetamine use is surging as a major cause of high-risk addiction and overdose death in the U.S.

From 2015 to 2019, the number of deaths linked to methamphetamine use rose from 5,526 a year to 15,489 a year — roughly a 180% increase.

The researchers found Native Americans and Alaska Natives still have the highest rate of methamphetamine use disorder and have seen sharp increases in drug deaths in recent years.

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