ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An increase in opioid and stimulant usage became prevalent during the pandemic. Now experts are seeing those drugs here in the Stateline.

“They like the opioids, but they just crave the meth,” explained Chris Gleason.

Once considered a rural drug of choice, methamphetamine is moving into cities. Brightside Recovery Chief Clinical Officer Chris Gleason says he’s seen the increase here in the Stateline.

“I would say it’s at least 40 to 50% more clients coming in with methamphetamine than prior to the epidemic,” Gleason said.

U.S. overdose deaths surged during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to preliminary data from the CDC, over 87,000 people in the US died from drug overdoses–primarily related to opioids.

Gleason believes people feeling more isolated is a large factor and he says that goes for all people.

“I’ve seen it from people who don’t have a place to live to people who are working full time and have available money at hand,” he explained.

In Winnebago County, the death toll has not changed significantly. County Coroner William Hintz says he has only seen a few deaths related to methamphetamine this year.

In attempts to keep those numbers down, Gleasons says it’s important to continue advocating to break the stigma.

“Substance abuse disorders do have that stigma attached to them, we’re talking about people who have a legitimate medical disease, not just a habit or behavior,” said Gleason.

Brightside Recovery is continuing to offer support and services during the pandemic for those struggling with addiction.