Asheville man explains how he battled through addiction

ASHEVILLE, NC — A problem emerging across North Carolina has doctors on high alert.

What You Need To Know

More than 60% of overdose deaths in 202 involved multiple substances, such as methamphetamine and fentanyl

Mixing depressants and stimulants can cause several dangerous side effects, such as stroke, respiratory failure, heart attack, aneurysm or death

A North Carlina man shares how difficult it is to beat addiction of meth and other substances

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services more than 60% of overdose deaths in 2020 involved multiple substances like methamphetamine and fentanyl.

The Buncombe County Sheriff’s office reports in 2021 it seized 39 pounds of meth, which was a record amount in a single year.

Doctors say mixing depressants and stimulants can cause several dangerous side effects such as stroke, respiratory failure, heart attack, aneurysm or death.

One North Carolina man opens up about his struggle with addiction in hopes it helps someone else

Elliot Lancaster does yoga with his instructor at least one a week. He enjoys taking slow breaths to calm his mind while exercising his body.

“It helped with my meditation, my contact with God, and it helped me learn to just sit and be present,” Lancaster said.

Yoga also helped him through the biggest struggle of his life. Lancaster has been battling meth addiction for more than two decades. He first tried it when he was 14 but didn’t become addicted until he was in his 20s.

“I ended up getting jumped by some people that were supposed to be friends of mine in my own house,” Lancaster said. “I got the crap kicked out of me. You could see my teeth through my lip.”

It’s been about one year since Lancaster last did meth. He managed to get clean thanks to the Peace and Purpose Sober Living home in Asheville. But others haven’t been so lucky.

“It’s scary the number of people that go wayside. I have seen four people relapse since I’ve been here,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster says he has mixed meth with opioids like heroin. He knows how powerful the combinations are and how hard it is to kick the habit.

“There is an opioid epidemic going on, but I think it’s overshadowing the fact that all those people on opioids are also on methamphetamines,” Lancaster said. “People do meth when they are coming down off opioids.”

Asheville family physician Shuchin Shukla is also board certified in addiction medicine. He says his clinic has seen a shift in the last two years.

“In clinic, with the patients I see, we have seen an increased prevalence of methamphetamine use,” Shukla said. “Sometimes by itself, but more often in the context of polysubstance use, which are folks who are using opioids and methamphetamines.”

Shukla says opioids are depressants, while methamphetamines are stimulants and that is why some people mix them.

“I think of it as the vodka and Red Bull kind of idea,” Shukla said. “You don’t want to get too intoxicated one way and so you use the other substance to balance it out.”

Lancaster knows what it’s like to crave the rush a drug gives but has found comfort in his new sober way of life and hopes to help others now by way of example.

“I hope that if they don’t take it now at least I planted a seed for them in the future,” Lancaster said.

He has this advice for anyone struggling with addiction.

“Give yourself time to heal,” Lancaster said. “Anyone who has been a part of a 12-step program needs to realize that you need to work with someone else, you need to stop isolating and you need to get a higher power.”

Doctors say mixing depressants and stimulants can cause several dangerous side effects such as stroke, respiratory failure, heart attack, aneurysm or death. If you know someone struggling with drug addiction call the North Carolina helpline at 1-800-688-4232.

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