Oregon's meth problem: Deaths on the rise as price per ounce plummets

(Photo via Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Meth is making a comeback across the country, and Oregon is seeing some of the worst of it.

"Prices have really dropped and the availability has gotten greater, probably certainly within the past three years," an undercover Springfield Police narcotics officer said.

An ounce of meth four years ago would have been $1,000; today, it's half that price.

Oregon's biggest concern is that meth-related deaths are increasing rapidly.

They more than tripled since 2010.

"Methamphetamine causes large releases of dopamine and that's the reward neurotransmitter that we have in us, and that's quite addictive," Lane County Public Health Dr. Patrick Luedtke said.

Health officials are doing what they can to curb demand for the drug.

"We try to do a lot of education starting with kids in elementary school and we try to do a good deal as well with those who are using and then those people who are now addicted; we really try to identify them and get them into treatment," Dr. Luedtke said.

This happens while law enforcement works to diminish the supply.

"Keeping the street level dealers on edge is just as important as keeping the big ones looking over their shoulder all the time," the narcotics officer said.

We rode along with him to learn more about what that job entails.

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