Meth epidemic reaches crisis


(1/15/2018)

From: Trempealeau County District Attorney
Taavi McMahon

I want the public to be aware of the skyrocketing increase in methamphetamine-related cases in the past four years.

Just over two years ago, I drafted a press release on methamphetamine-related cases in our county. Unfortunately, we’ve only seen an increase in cases and issues related to this problem.

Since I started as district attorney for Trempealeau County in October 2012, I’ve reached out to the community with law enforcement to discuss pressing issues such as the opiate crisis and other serious drugs that are negatively impacting our community. We met with every high school in the county and the towns’ association, as well as other community groups. We met with all the local medical providers to educate them on drug-seeking individuals and the dangers of over-prescribing opiates.

Unfortunately, over the past four years, our county, like many in the state, has seen a dramatic increase in methamphetamine use, abuse and dealing. At near the end of 2017, sometimes, it seems like the entire criminal calendar is filled with defendants who are being charged with possession of methamphetamine, the delivery of this dangerous and toxic substance, or have some aspect of their life negatively impacted by it.

In my opinion, there is no easy solution. Recently our State Department of Justice, in conjuncture with the FBI, released a study that documents the regional issue and points to several factors that have led to the increase in availability and potency of the drug. I have attached the complete document to our website located at http://www.tremplocounty.com/tchome/district_attorney/documents/Wisconsin%20Meth%20Study,%20Unclass%20Version,%20Final.pdf.

Of one thing I am certain, we cannot arrest and prosecute our way out of this problem. In the DOJ/FBI study they mention that one of the biggest impediments to resolving the problem is the scarcity of treatment options. All too often we are asking the judge to place addicts in jail and expecting that punishing addicts for using drugs will somehow make them stop. The only real hope for addicts is treatment, and we need to work together as a community to increase the availability and quality of those options.

There are cases where a concerned family member calls for help and instead of being transferred to the Department of Human Services to assess treatment options, is directed to the sheriff’s office and a criminal proceeding is initiated. Our office should not be in the awkward position of having to convict somebody of a felony in order to help them get services and treatment. I believe it is time to treat this problem as it should be: a public health crisis. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, please seek help; waiting only increases the chances of failure.

 

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