November is National Methamphetamine (meth) Awareness Month. The goal this month is to call attention to meth by educating the community about the effects it is having on families. This is done in anticipation that it will reduce the demand for this highly-addictive drug, and serve as a prevention message intended to educate the community on the resources available for those in need of them.
Past efforts to deter meth’s negative impacts in Wisconsin have mainly been through law enforcement and regulatory measures to control crimes associated with its use, trafficking and production. There is no doubt that with meth use there is a cost and consequence for the individual using it. What is frequently overlooked, however, is that the costs and consequences of using are not exclusive to the user. The impact on families, friends and communities make up what is referred to as the ripple effect.
Within this ripple effect one can measure certain costs on agencies and organizations. In Wisconsin alone, meth is costing $424 million dollars for things such as, health care costs and lost productivity. In Burnett County, there have been months where the out-of-home placement for children removed from meth homes is as high as $70,000. There has been a 67 percent increase of those requiring treatment for meth.
The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office has had 66 arrests to date this year for possession of meth. Note that this does not include the arrest made by the municipal police departments, Tribal police, or State Patrol. The amount (in grams) of meth seized now totals 127.81 for the Sheriff’s Office in 2017.
The meth epidemic is a complex problem that also impacts the State’s health and social service systems, families, business, and communities. Because of the widespread effects in Wisconsin, a collaborative, coordinated public education effort within these systems is necessary. An effective and comprehensive prevention program that influences personal attitudes and behaviors against meth use is an essential element. Currently, AODA prevention programs utilize researched-based prevention models and strategies, but meth-specific, research-based, prevention programs have not yet been developed.
Unless you or someone you love has actually been addicted to meth and you have lived in the world of destruction of meth addiction, it is difficult to fully grasp the magnitude of the problems it causes. Many people diagnosed with a meth use problem who seek professional help are successful. They can change their lives and learn to live meth-free. In fact, the sooner a person gets help for his/her meth addiction, the better their chances of making a full recovery. Meth addiction is a difficult and complicated condition, but recovery is possible! You are not alone.
If you or someone you care about is using meth you can call the Burnett County Department of Health and Human Services at 715-349-7600. They will be able to point you towards the resources that are available in the county and also what is available in the country.
Submitted by: Tammy Hopke, Burnett County CST Coordinator
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