All week, Sioux Falls City Officials have been shining a light on meth addiction. On Friday, they ended the campaign by addressing the public. They say the conversation needs to begin with our youth and does not end this week.
The key to fighting meth addiction is never trying it at all. Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether says the discussion needs to start with students as early as middle school.
Huether said, "The first group I want to talk to is our schools and our universities. We've got to find a way to talk to our young people and help them understand this is something you never want to try."
Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns says School Resource Officers will be making more of an effort to connect with students. He says it's important for the officers to recognize who is at risk and point them in the right direction. Police will also be doing more work out on the street. Along with eleven other members, the police department will add another officer to the Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force in October.
"That is to focus our efforts even more intently on getting this poison, and that's what it is, out of our community," said Burns. "When my Drug Task Force Commander tells me that 85 percent of his time from his task force is spent on the meth cases that tells, yeah another metric, another indicator that it's a huge problem."
For those already struggling with the drug, Public Health Director Jill Franken says they are not alone. They should turn to the church, their employers, and health providers. If they don't have one, Falls Community Health can also get them the help they need.
Franken said, "You, yourself can take that brave step if you are addicted to talk to someone."
City officials also said today that we need work on a state-wide level to ensure people have affordable access to treatment. Franken says we need the legislature to address Medicaid expansion in the upcoming legislative session.