Charlotte area hospitals seeing more meth-related ER visits - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte area hospitals seeing more meth-related ER visits

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Doctors in emergency rooms in metro Charlotte say they are seeing more patients seeking treatment after using meth, and this is a part of a national trend.

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows a sharp rise in meth-related hospital emergency department visits.

"National statistics in the greater Charlotte region and here, we've probably seen a doubling of meth cases," said Piedmont Medical Center ER Doctor Chris DiOrio.

The report says visits related to meth use rose from nearly 68,000 cases in 2007 to almost 103,000 in 2011.

DiOrio said the hospital has seen a spike in patients, from teens to adults in their 40's, who became ill after using meth.

He says the symptoms include violent behavior, major mood swings and hyperstimulation. Long-term use can cause psychological disorders.

DiOrio says meth is a highly addictive drug that is easy to make from medicine you can buy at your local pharmacy.

"Many other drugs are being blocked at the border, but meth can be manufactured here from common cold medications such as Sudafed," said DiOrio.

DiOrio says what's even scarier is the uncertainty of how you body will react once meth is taken, especially for first-time users, and he says it can be lethal.

"A first-time user can die right away from meth from a heart arrhythmia or from a seizure, and we have seen that. We've seen that in this city, in Rock Hill," said Dr. DiOrio.

The report also found that in 2011, 62% of meth-related emergency visits involved the use of meth with at least one other substance, and doctors say that can put your health at even more risk.

DiOrio recommends that users of meth should seek help before it's too late.

"It's a dead-end street. You will stop doing meth one day. Either through death, jail, or stop because you have to stop from something," said Dr. DiOrio.

Doctors say meth increases the amount of dopamine in a person's brain which with long-term use ultimately makes someone a different neurological person.

To read the full study, click here.

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