Most of us are aware of the Methamphetamine (meth) problem in Burnett County. There have been town halls, billboards, yard signs, and public service announcements all with the same message: meth is here and it is destroying lives. There is no such thing as being “functional” while using meth. Meth will slowly, but surely, bring the individual using meth to the lowest depths imaginable.
A report, 2016 Wisconsin Methamphetamine Study, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center, and the Southeast Wisconsin Threat Analysis states that meth use expanded from 250 to 300 percent from 2010 to 2015. State lawmakers have been focusing on heroin while this report explains, “…meth has quietly surged to a point where the misuse or cases, arrests, and charges are on par with heroin”. Meth has not been so quiet in Burnett County. The Wisconsin State Patrol reported meth related cases jumped 136 percent while grams seized from 2010 to 2014 rose by 1592 percent. In terms of Burnett County, grams seized from 2014 to 2015 rose 1363 percent.
In conjunction with the increase in meth use, our community is seeing more health and dental expenses, significant increases in child neglect cases typically ending in the removal of children, and more property crimes and violent criminal offences. This all leads to an increased burden on your tax dollars. The national prediction is that it will cost 23.4 billion dollars to treat this addiction. It is estimated that Wisconsin alone will be paying 424 million dollars.
Despite the efforts, our community continues to fight an uphill battle. Reported cases of meth use and those seeking treatment are constant. Local law enforcement efforts seem to have little impact given the scope of this epidemic. The hope is that more resources are made available so treatment needs can be met, preventative measures can be strengthened, and we can start to get ahead of this growing issue. Burnett County is hoping the plea for help will reach our elected officials and they understand the gravity of our meth problem.
If you are interested in reading the entire report please visit: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/milwaukee/news/press-releases/fbi-and-wisconsin-doj-partners-release-results-of-2016-statewide-meth-study
Submitted by: Restorative Justice of NW WI, Inc.
“Healthy Minute” is brought to you by healthyburnett.org