April 3, 2018 -- With the nation still reeling from the opioid crisis, drug forecasting experts say a new wave of addiction is coming and the United States isn’t ready for it.

Abuse of stimulants like methamphetamine, cocaine, and even prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin is surging across the country, fed by cheap, potent, and plentiful supplies.

“No one is paying attention to this,” said John Eadie, coordinator for the National Emerging Threat Initiative, which provides research to the government’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.

', shareTitle: "", shareDesc: "This art installation shows carved faces representing each person who died from an overdose of prescription opioid. The wall was featured at this week's National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Photo by Brenda Goodman/WebMD", shareImg: 'https://img.webmd.com/dtmcms/live/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/news/2018/04_2018/opioid_overdose_wall/650x350_opioid_overdose_wall.jpg', shareLink: 'www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20180403/experts-warn-of-emerging-stimulant-epidemic' } ); });

“Everyone, correctly, is focused on opioids and should be because of the known problem there. But this other problem is catching up with us very rapidly.

“We’re now facing a very significant stimulant epidemic,” said Eadie, who spoke this week at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

For every kilogram of heroin -- a commonly abused opioid -- seized over the last 5 years, Edie says, drug enforcement agents seized 15 kilograms of stimulants.

“We have to pay attention to this one. It’s very big, and it’s growing very rapidly,” he said.

Data from government surveys on drug use show that stimulant use is climbing and in some cases outpaces opioid use. In 2016, for example, an estimated 2.3 million people started using opioids to get high for the first time, while 2.6 million people started using stimulant drugs for the same purpose. In 2016, an estimated 3.8 million people said they used opioids to get high within the last month, while 4.3 million said the same about stimulants.

While opioids now account for most drug overdose deaths in the U.S., the number of people who are dying from stimulants is also rising. Early data from the CDC show that the number of overdose deaths due to psychostimulant abuse -- a drug category that includes prescription and illegal stimulants -- jumped nearly 30% last year. In 2017, 7,663 people died from a stimulant overdose, up from 5,992 in 2016.

The reasons for the increase are not yet well understood. But historically, drug abuse tends to happen in cycles. The heroin epidemic of the 1970s was followed by the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, for example.