“Beat” Meth

The acuity of the methamphetamine epidemic is highly visible in emergency departments.

Did you know that Methamphetamine is the second leading cause of overdose death in America after opioids? More than 29,000 Americans die every month of non-cocaine psychostimulant overdose, and methamphetamine addiction is becoming more frequent among racial minority and historically underserved communities.

This month, Horizon Services shines a light on ‘beating Meth’ by engaging clients who are in active psychosis in emergency departments (EDs), and highlights the exciting practices that are showing promising outcomes at Denver Health, a safety net health system in Colorado.  The ‘beginning early and assertive treatment’ (BEAT) Meth interventions call for a number of steps to be followed swiftly in order to give patients a 3X higher rate of outpatient addiction treatment engagement 30 days after discharge in comparison to patients who did not receive the BEAT interventions!

The acuity of the methamphetamine epidemic is highly visible in emergency departments. Methamphetamine is a leading cause of drug-related ED visits. Patients present to EDs for medical illness; psychiatric symptoms, including paranoia and hallucinations; and violence and agitation. Patients often require intensive management and experience coercive interventions such as physical and chemical restraint. Methamphetamine use disorder is correlated with high rates of psychosis, mood symptoms, suicidality, and ongoing ED utilization. A methamphetamine use diagnosis is also associated with higher mortality after ED discharge.

For more, see the featured article from the Journal of Addiction Medicine.


Simpson, Scott A. MD, MPH; Wolf, Chelsea MD; Loh, Ryan M. PhD; Camfield, Katherine MD, MPH; Rylander, Melanie MD. Evaluation of the BEAT Meth Intervention for Emergency Department Patients with Methamphetamine Psychosis. Journal of Addiction Medicine 17(1):p 67-73, 1/2 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001037