New state campaign aims to stop the demand for methamphetamine

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- At a methamphetamine abuse summit in Eau Claire Wisconsin's attorney general unveiled a campaign to stop the demand for the drug.

The "kNOw meth" public awareness campaign looks to increase collaboration and to assist local departments in preventing meth abuse from ever beginning.

Attorney General Brad Schimel, the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth, Marshfield Clinic Health System and the Northwoods Coalition are launching the campaign.

Schimel said, “We now need to turn our efforts strongly to a second front. Methamphetamine.”

During a press conference at UW-Eau Claire Schimel announced that the Department of Justice will be committing $50,000 to help spread the campaign's message across Wisconsin.
The campaign will use printed materials, public service announcements and a website to help share information on how to stop meth abuse.

Nearly 300 professionals attending the summit reviewed the campaign report in an effort to collectively battle meth addiction.

Schimel said they’ll examined, “How to launch effectively an awareness and prevention campaign that can stop people from ever starting down the path of using methamphetamine.”

Few people know what the positive impact of the campaign could be for addicts better than former methamphetamine addict Joel Fischer.

Fischer explained, “I would say out of all the drugs, even opiates because for a short time I did heroin, methamphetamine was by far the worst. It was my public enemy number one.”

Starting drugs at the age of 12, and after multiple stints in prison, the now 23 year old Fischer says sobriety is an everyday battle that doesn't come easy.

“Especially the rut that is methamphetamines, it's one of the hardest ruts I've ever seen anyone try get out of but you don't get out of it without get out of it without having faith,” Fischer said.

Fischer's mom, Tammy Renly, says meth tore the family apart and eventually forced her to turn her own son into the police, despite how heartbreaking it was.

Renly said, “Looking at it today maybe this was the right way to do it, maybe that tough love moment was the right way to do it otherwise maybe we'd be burying him.”

However to prevent situations like Fischer's from ever escalating the Barron County Sheriff's Department says parents should be aware of the warning signs hiding in plain sight if possible.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald explained, “Talking to your kids is the number one things we can do to help prevent this epidemic from spreading.”

Public safety departments, law enforcement agencies and the state say it will take a community effort to stop the spread of meth addiction.

Schimel added, “We will not arrest our way out of this and it is far more than just a public safety problem. It is a public health epidemic.”

Other efforts the state has taken to combat meth abuse are appointing a new assistant attorney general to work in Eau Claire to address meth in this part of the state as well as add four new drug agents to the Division of Criminal Investigation.

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