The Attorney General's Office has proclaimed a methamphetamine epidemic in South Dakota, saying the issue is the top crime-related problem our state faces.
There's no question meth use is rapidly rising and doing so very quickly.
It's easy to see that in our crime reports, as significantly more than half of the felony court cases are meth related.
Meth-related arrests reached a new peak last year at 2,125 statewide compared to 669 in 2012. Through June of this year, there already have been about 1,300 meth-related arrests in South Dakota, which means last year's record will likely be broken.
Over the weekend, our newspaper kicked off a four-part series investigating meth and its impact on the Yankton Sioux Tribe in south-central South Dakota. We chose the region for a number of reasons.
First, the Department of Justice has reported that American Indians have the highest rates of meth abuse in the nation. It's being used on all nine American Indian reservations in South Dakota. Additionally, the Yankton Sioux Tribal Reservation is an area that has state and privately owned land and nearby, meaning many people are affected by the high usage of meth.
Though, there's no doubt meth is being used in every county in South Dakota.
Our journalistic efforts are multi-faceted in this series, but our main goal is to show our readers exactly how this one drug is significantly impacting one region in our state.
The meth problem is serious in South Dakota. Users are committing violent crimes they normally wouldn't because of the drug.
It's right here in Mitchell. It is in our rural communities.
And, we should all take time to become educated about its effects on law enforcement, our communities, and how it will change laws.
Far too often people ignore or are intentionally ignorant to these obvious problems because they believe they're unaffected.
But the drug's use is becoming so prominent that we all should stop and learn about it.