Survey: More High Schoolers Try Meth in South Dakota than Across the Nation

"Three Legged Stool" appraoch needed to tackle meth: Enforcement, Education, Treatment

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Experts say the prevalence of meth is a growing problem in our community, straining the resources of law enforcement, prevention services, and treatment centers.

On Thursday night, those three pillars came together in Sioux Falls to shed more light on the issue and discuss solutions.

“I want to clear up some confusion: you can never dabble in methamphetamine,”said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead. “Methamphetamine, you use it once and you’re hooked.”

Alarming statistics show that those using meth in the state are starting at a very young age.

“We are seeing a significant increase in our crime rate, we are seeing more of our high school students who have said they have tried meth,” said Darcy Jensen of Prairie View Prevention Services.

The South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows 4.8 percent of 9th graders in the state have tried meth, compared to only 2 percent of 9th graders nationally; giving South Dakota a 150 percent higher rate of young meth users than the entire U.S.

“Our goal is to really create awareness,” said Jensen. “So people know what the signs are, provide education and have people understand have youth understand the dangers of meth use.”

In order to tackle the meth problem, experts say the community must take a “three legged stool approach,” where enforcement and education are paired with treatment.

“It is a disease that affects the mind, and each person has their addiction with a certain substance,” said Terry Liggins, a Volunteer Coordinator with Face It Together Sioux Falls. “And we just help them try to manage those thoughts, those urges, those cravings, those reasons why they’re drawn to whatever that addictive substance is, and help them to become well.”
The state’s most recent crime report released last week shows that over the last year, drug arrests, driven largely by meth, have increased 12.5 percent from the year before.

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