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August 04, 2016 06:00 PM

Face It Together Seeing Higher Meth Numbers

Sioux Falls, SD

Law enforcement across South Dakota will tell you methamphetamine is fueling a lot of crime in our communities.  It was not that long ago Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead blamed the drug for the recent uptick in crime in Sioux Falls and the surrounding area.

"More and more in our community we're hearing about that common link; firearms, drugs, methamphetamine and heroin entering our community, these are all concerning trends we're seeing," Milstead said. 

Law enforcement is not the only agency seeing the drug become more mainstream. 

Face It Together is essentially a link between people who are struggling with addiction and services and treatment they need.  The staff there has begun tracking day to day data of what clients are dealing with.

When it comes to meth, staff has noticed a big spike in just six months. 

David Whitesock says the organization mostly sees people struggling with alcohol, which is 70-percent of their clients.  From January to now, the percentage of people who come here facing meth addiction has risen from 13-percent to 25-percent. 

"That's significant.  That starts to turn our heads as to what's coming through the door," Whitesock, Chief Data Officer, said. 

The people coming through the door are not just facing addiction itself.  Whitesock says many of them are also dealing with legal, housing, and family issues as a result. 

"The substance itself is generally toxic," Whitesock said. 

The new way Face It Together is tracking client data could help men and women who need it. Whitesock says seeing this data increase as it is happening, rather than just checking it once a year, may lead to better research and proactive solutions. 

"We have to go up stream.  A lot of the efforts we have right now sit at the bottom of the waterfall, and we wait for people to fall over.  To hit rock bottom.  That's when we do something for addiction," Whitesock said. 

The statistics show a troubling trend law enforcement has mentioned time and time again.  However, Whitesock says knowing these numbers is not a bad thing. 

"I think that's a positive, actually, that more people are coming forward to get help.  The challenge is staying with those folks and those folks staying with their treatment plan.  Their recovery plan.  Their wellness plan," Whitesock said. 
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