Red Ribbon Week highlights ongoing drug/alcohol crisis in the Black Hills

One small population is being affected involuntarily - newborn babies

RAPID CITY, S.D. – As we look toward Red Ribbon Week in the country, we look at the ongoing drug and alcohol crisis affecting the local area.

With a week of prevention and awareness, we take a look at what Pennington County does to help some of the people being affected involuntarily by this crisis – newborn babies.

Alcohol and other drug abuses have been on the rise across the country and even in the Black Hills. The number of felony drug arrests in Pennington County alone is up more than 10 percent from last year, going from 1,031 to 1,168 as of Oct. 16.

According to Deanna Nolan, clinical supervisor at the Care Campus, the number of pregnant women struggling with addiction has remained pretty consistent.

“Our detox emissions, they can come from the hospital, law enforcement, they can walk in on their own,” said Nolan. “Families will also bring them in.”

In 2017, a total of 16 women were admitted to detox for alcohol consumption or other drug use.

So far in 2018, nine have been admitted.

The breakdown this year is:

  • 5 with alcohol dependence
  • 1 with heroin/opioid dependence
  • 1 with marijuana dependence
  • 2 with methamphetamine dependence

“Often times, our folks don’t want to go through treatment,” said Nolan. “They want to get detoxed and get back into the community.”

That can lead to repeat visitors who aren’t recovering. According to Nolan, they do see repeat visitors.

“One of the things that we do with those who don’t want to get treatment is try to do some harm reduction planning with them to help keep them safe,” said Nolan.

Some pregnant woman, whether they’re repeat visitors or don’t enter a detox program at all, carry their babies to full term. Those babies who test positive for drugs are reported to Sgt. Dan Wardle of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. He says it happens once or twice a month.

“There is a drug problem,” said Wardle. “Meth seems to be the drug, and that’s what we see mostly with infants being born with drugs in their system.”

There were 19 babies born that tested positive for drugs in Pennington County that were reported to Wardle in 2017. The number excludes babies born in Pennington County that fall under out-of-county jurisdictions.

So far in 2018, there have been 15 babies born that tested positive for drugs.

“We know the environment that goes along with methamphetamine is a dangerous one, and we want to make sure we protect the child from that,” said Wardle.

When a baby tests positive, the county takes temporary custody of the child.

Wardle says “the goal is to maybe get the parents and child into the court system,” aiming for a final result of a family reunited.

“When you see people that do turn things around and just tell you that their life is better,” said Nolan. “The miracle does happen. We wish it happened more often than it does but it does happen.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the Care Campus is located at 321 Kansas City St., directly across from the Pennington County Courthouse. Services available can also be reached at 605-394-6128.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News