Last month, The Lund Report published a two-part series on the impact of meth use in Oregon on the state’s behavioral health system. The report is the result of an 8-month investigation, dozens of interviews with people who work and have been treated in the behavioral health system, and a review of public records and data.
The series was reposted by state media and was also featured on OPB’s Think Out Loud and had three segments on KGW’s The Story in Portland. And we got a lot of emails. Some posts, from people working within the system, applauded the series for making the connection between crystal meth, homelessness and mental health. Others shared their own tragic stories involving methamphetamine use and psychosis.
Below are excerpts, published with permission, of some of these emails, as well as a selection of social media comments.
I’ve been exploring the Portland metro area on foot for 12 years. Over the past two years, on my photo walks around the metro area, I have seen firsthand the result of the failure of our street-level addiction and behavioral health treatment systems.
I also see it in the SOLVE events I regularly attend. During events, I try to take the time to hear the stories of those who now live on our streets. Some of the stories I hear are incredibly tragic.
When I took a photo walk along the proposed Green Loop in the Inner Eastside and City Center yesterday, it reminded me once again of our failing systems. The number of people I saw in distress was disturbing. The Green Loop road leg from Burnside to the Broadway Bridge is particularly alarming.
– Mark McClurePortland
I wanted to compliment the Lund report for the stories on the current state of meth impacts and all things BM 110 here in Oregon. These are incredibly important stories. The impacts are profound and continue to grow. There are a host of foreseeable consequences that cause significant collateral damage. I appreciate the work being done to educate the people of Oregon and beyond.
– Billy Williams, former U.S. Attorney for Oregon
I think your article is the most important story anyone has done in a very long time. The clarity and insight you have given on this pandemic is desperately needed information for all. Hopefully your reports will spur those who control the resources to address these issues to action. I’m sure focusing on these issues must be an unimaginable strain. So I wanted to congratulate you on your work and encourage you to persevere.
– Darell Duffy, Milwaukia
Excellent story, and, curiously, which has not been covered long before by real journalists in the region. It seems like the bands “Anti street scene” and “Pro Unhoused” talk as if it’s either a moral issue/lack of personal responsibility or an economic issue/lack of housing only. I’m so glad the Lund report does that.
– Eliza Schmidkunz, Eugene
My partner is in jail in Oklahoma because of, I believe, meth-induced psychosis. … Over the past 2 years, his behavior has gotten crazier and crazier. There were the usual heavy coverings on the windows to prevent unseen people from looking inside. He believed that our house had cameras everywhere monitoring us. He threw away a pair of his shoes because he believed they contained hidden listening devices. He broke at least 4 phones because of course in his mind they were tapped. When we went out, he was shouting and yelling into the car stereo at people who were using our car stereo to listen to us. He thought we were being followed by helicopters. …I found needles in our back bathroom that had clogged our toilet. He admitted to me that he had injected methamphetamine. … I knew it was some kind of schizophrenia and my instincts told me it had to do with his meth use. I did some research and realized he had all the symptoms of meth-induced psychosis. I called various psychiatric hospitals for help but always the same answer no bed available anywhere. … I personally believe he fried his brains out on crystal meth and that horrible drug pretty much destroyed him. … I was so happy that there was finally something written about meth-induced psychosis. I believe you have just contributed to the tip of the iceberg and this is truly a public health crisis for this nation. … I believe there are multitudes of people with similar stories. Thank you and continue your investigation on this subject.
– Debbie Mcdaniel, Sand Springs, Oklahoma
Yours are the best articles I’ve read on this scourge of new meth. This stuff is so much worse than 90s meth.
In hindsight, perhaps we shouldn’t have pulled Sudafed off the shelves. This opened the door to cartels. We need to publicize the cartel threat, but it’s tricky. Some readers would accuse journalists of racism and others would not want to think about cartels at all. Honestly they are all over Oregon and the United States
Thank you very much for your writing. You’ve written a damn good story on a subject that’s not easy to study.
– Anonymous, Eugene
I just read your article on the new meth. I enjoyed it very much. My niece just turned 18 and a week before her 18th birthday she took a handful of pills in a suicide attempt they tried to send her to the public hospital and there was no room for her. What are we doing to change overcrowded public hospitals?
– Deanie Wood, Florence
Read this article if you want to understand the effects of Election Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of dangerous drugs, and what our system is missing to fix the problem. … Drug addiction is an insidious problem and to solve it, we cannot rely on drug addicts making the decision to seek treatment alone. Let’s face it, drugs destroy lives and impact our communities. Therefore, this problem affects us all directly or indirectly.
The first step to correcting a problem is to understand the problem.
– Randy Groves, Eugene City Councilman
Simple solution: Give them all Adderal, which is similar to methamphetamine without the psychosis. Seriously.
I’m one hundred percent sure that the fact that we basically legalized meth in the state has a lot to do with it becoming a problem.
– Jamal Baghdadi
Of course, we lack leadership. Someone just spent a month worrying about a track meet. “No one has time for your meth problem” #priorities
– Justin Patino Sayers
Unfortunately, the legal status of a drug will not deter users from obtaining these drugs. Legal or not. Oregon is trying an approach that is having success in other countries. It will take time to notice a difference.
You know those articles about fridge craze that happen every few years? It’s not that. It’s really well done and explains a lot of what I’ve seen in my neighborhood over the past 10 years. https://t.co/DiXLBgJEBw
—Ben Morris (@BenjaminMorris) August 4, 2022
– Ben Morris, Director of Communications, Oregon Secretary of State
Important reporting from Oregon with great relevance to Washington’s meth crisis @GreenWrites in the first of two reports: https://t.co/LriM0K5mWg
— Hal Bernton (@hbernton) August 4, 2022
– Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times
Essential article from @TheLundReport about the new form of meth on our streets and the problems it is causing with our public hospital, emergency rooms, justice system, homelessness crisis and mental health services in general. https://t.co/dBC1XvLLk0
— Jessica Vega Pederson (@jvegapederson) August 4, 2022
– Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson
For the sake of the health of our community, we can no longer accept inaction in the face of this crisis. #ReadTheArticles https://t.co/EHgVbAW5ID
— Sharon Meieran (@SMeieran) August 4, 2022
– Sharon Meieran, Multnomah County Commissioner
And 7,500 emergency room visits in Portland each year due to a methamphetamine-related health emergency, or more than 20 visits a day. I wonder now if our health care providers are exhausted.
We need to make treatment easily accessible – and the norm, not the exception, for people struggling with SOUTH.
— Dwight Holton (@RogueDew) August 3, 2022
– Dwight Holton, Executive Director of Lines for Life
Harm reduction. Compassion. Decriminalization. Measure 110. Safe injection sites. Exchange of needles. Low barrier shelters.
This is how we manage addiction in 2022.
What is the incentive to get clean?
—Daniel M (@sober8675309) August 5, 2022
It’s incredible! Where are the experts, program developers, administrators, behavioral/public health specialists who know how to put in place appropriate services to address these issues? !
Oregon’s meth problem: More money than leadership https://t.co/0gZ7vUFnvO
— Edie S (@geezergirlpdx) August 5, 2022
The Lund Report follows addiction issues as part of a reporting grant sponsored by the Association of Health Journalists and the Commonwealth Fund. Emily Green can be reached at [email protected].