The island’s chief medical examiner said this year he has classified more non-natural deaths related to methamphetamine abuse than every other illicit substance combined.
“Vastly methamphetamine,” Dr. Jeffrey Nine said in an in-studio interview with Kandit. “Of all the drugs we’re seeing, including alcohol, all of them added up to doesn’t even meet how many deaths are related to methamphetamine.”
Out of nearly 60 non-natural deaths that occurred on Guam since January this year, 37 were methamphetamine related. These include car crashes, suicides, and other deaths where a person did not die of a disease or age-related cause.
His toxicology screening of these deaths have turned up meth, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pain killers, including valium. Cocaine and heroin have yet to show up in his screenings.
As previously covered on Kandit, between January and July, Dr. Nine has classified 24 deaths as caused by methamphetamine toxicity; meaning, a toxic level of meth use led to the death. These normally appear as heart attack or stroke, he said. Also, that number has increased since July.
“We’re seeing one to two deaths per week on Guam related to methamphetamine,” he said. At that rate, Guam may expect to see more than 70 deaths this year related to meth use.
While it is not an alarming number on its own when compared to the size of the population, he said, it is the leading cause of death by substance abuse by far, and is 100 percent avoidable.
“Guam has a methamphetamine problem,” he said. “It’s outnumbered alcohol. It’s outnumbered every other drug, combined.”