Forum spreads word of dangers of Methamphetamine

By  | 

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- The signs of methamphetamine use can be a bit tricky to spot, but if you look closely they can be alarming. Informing the public about meth use and its impacts on the community was the purpose of a forum held Wednesday at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Taking a look at the numbers, Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King says the county is on track to see more meth cases this year than last.

“Just this year alone, we have identified 300 people in our court system that are involved with this drug. We aren't seeing any decline,” King said.

The rise in meth use in the Chippewa Valley is why last year the meth response committee was formed. The committee is a collaboration of law enforcement, government, and community agencies.

“Eau Claire is such a wonderful place to live but yet this issue is plaguing the system,” Eau Claire Police Chief Jerry Staniszewski said.

The Meth Response Committee says the drug is not only bogging down the criminal justice system but meth users often turn to theft to help fuel their habit. Eau Claire County Crime Stoppers says they've seen many tips come in that have ties to meth use.

“80% of our tips are drug related and a high majority is meth related. In this region it's a real problem,” Eau Claire Co. Crime Stoppers board member Philip Low explained.

Events like the one Wednesday brought out community members and students like Nikki Anderson who attends UW-Eau Claire. The Minnesota native says she was surprised to hear the meth problem here is so large.

“It’s eye opening to hear that it’s so prevalent here and I don't think a lot of people know about it,” Anderson said.

When it comes to tackling the problem, Eau Claire County is using a three pillar approach. They are focusing in on more prevention, enforcement and treatment. They say in order to do that they need the help of the community.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)--A local forum hopes to further educate the public about the effects of Methamphetamine abuse on families and communities.

Wednesday, has been declared National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. The Meth Response Committee formed in Eau Claire County helped to host a More Than Meth forum for community members to learn more about a growing problem in our community.

As part of the event, the public heard from a panel of experts about the impacts of the drug and how its being addressed in the Chippewa Valley.

The Meth Response Committee was formed last year in an attempt to control and decrease meth use and its effect on our community, including the criminal justice system. The groups involved in Wednesday's forum stressed that this drug is one that affects everyone in the community, not just the user.

"Tonight is just another way to educate the community and let them know both the significance of the problem and how we can combat it," Eau Claire Police Chief Jerry Staniszewski said.

On top of the forum, the Meth Response committee has also put together a website full of resources and interactive tools to raise awareness of meth use in our community. We have a link to that site up now on the right-hand side of this screen.