A weekly column written by Gov. Kristi Noem:
It seems we’ve captured attention not just in South Dakota, but around the country and even the world with our new anti-meth campaign. We needed that. In today’s age, traditional messages don’t cut through the noise. We knew we needed to make a bold statement to make people stop and think… and it is working.
No doubt, we have a big task ahead of us. Meth affects every community. In our state, twice as many 12- to 17-year-olds reported using meth in the past year as compared to the national average. Our youth are at risk and we need to protect them.
This requires action from each of us. We all have a responsibility to step up and be part of the solution.
This means paying attention when your friend starts experimenting with drugs. This means offering help when your loved one is struggling with addiction. This means building channels of communications with your kids by listening, asking questions, reminding them of their strengths, and showing an interest in their lives.
We’re taking action, too. This year, I designated dollars toward starting conversations and increasing awareness on our meth epidemic. Of even greater importance, though, is the $730,000 we set aside to go toward school-based meth prevention programming and the more than $1 million in funding to support treatment services. Prevention and treatment efforts need to work together to eliminate this epidemic.
Shortly after we launched our awareness campaign, my Secretary of Social Services, Laurie Gill, noted that these efforts are vital because “addiction impacts generations.” She talked about how common it is to see kids using meth, only to learn that their parents are using meth. “It’s heartbreaking, and these kids need to know there’s hope. People need to know that they can overcome addiction and find a second chance.” I couldn’t agree more.
Now is the time to break these chains of addiction. Our new OnMeth.com website offers a “get involved” section that suggests practical ways to combat meth in your community. Start a fundraiser and donate proceeds to a treatment or support center near you. Talk to your kids about the dangers of substance abuse. Lead a discussion about meth in your school. We’ll be providing more information and tools for parents, educators, and community leaders to help with these efforts in the coming months.
Many folks across the state are already using these resources. Since the new website launched, nearly 10,000 South Dakotans have visited the site, and more than 170 South Dakotans have viewed the treatment resources. Fifty-one people have called or texted the Resource Hotline and nine have been referred to treatment so far. We’re breaking down the stigma and barriers to seeking help. We’re offering hope. And this is just the beginning.
Reaching out for help may be the hardest thing to do, but help is available when you are ready. If you see something happening or know of someone who needs help, call 1-800-920-4343, text “ONMETH” to 898211 or go to OnMeth.com. Let’s work together to get meth out of South Dakota.