Rapid City community takes action, following meth forum

Posted: Updated:

On April 11, members from around the community gathered at Rapid City High School to discuss concerns and specific goals in addressing the methamphetamine epidemic.

Community members were divided into three groups and assigned a topic of discussion including prevention, intervention and treatment.

Tuesday’s meeting was a follow-up “Action Planning Meeting” of the Methamphetamine Community Forum on March 9.

Methamphetamine use has become a concern in younger demographics as well. Lifeways, Inc. has been providing evidenced-based prevention and intervention programming, while connecting with students in Rapid City Area Schools since 2003 and Custer Area Schools since 2005.

“We have seen an increase from where we were hearing 19- and 20-year-olds beginning to use meth," said Paula Wilkinson Smith, the executive director of Lifeways, Inc. "Now we're hearing 15- and 16-year-olds are beginning to use meth.”

Community members came up with prevention ideas, such as making an extra effort to encourage students to take part in extracurricular activities. They also discussed educating students about the dangers and risks of the drug at an early age.

As for intervention ideas, some community members expressed concerns regarding family support. It was said that families often have difficulties in knowing how to deal with a family member who uses meth, which sparked the discussion of possible support systems for family members. 

READ MORE: Investigation into cause of Spearfish house fire continues

On March 15, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed Senate Bill 43, which appropriated $600,000 to expand the state’s methamphetamine treatment services. Amy Iversen-Pollreisz, the deputy director of the Department of Social Services in Pierre, was in attendance Tuesday to answer the community’s questions regarding treatment services.

"It will support an estimated 50 individuals, including evidence-based training that is needed for providers," said Iversen-Polleriesz. "Fifty individuals could go from detox all the way to after-care with that funding."

One treatment goal included that of keeping in touch with people who had achieved the after-care stage. Providers would then be able record if they relapsed or not. In knowing this, they'd determine if certain procedures were efficient, while others weren't.

Iversen-Polleriesz also explained that the average time it takes for most patients to recover is 45 to 60 days, depending on the level of addiction.

Today's Forecast