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Meth and Heroin Problems are Growing in South Dakota

The Mount Rushmore state's beautiful, wide open spaces, and incredible natural attractions are enhanced by the sparse population and the ability to really get-away. People move to SD to get away from the crazy pace they fight in large cities. The State also gives a person a chance to relax and get back in touch with reality and what is really important, family, peace and integrity.

So why is the state fighting such increased abuse of terrible drugs such as Heroin and methamphetamine? Alcohol and tobacco use levels in SD are at or slightly above the national averages. But prevalence of marijuana and other illicit drug use has traditionally been lower than most other parts of the US.

But heroin use is up in epidemic proportions all across the country with the increases in the Midwest and upper Midwest being the most pronounced. SD is not escaping this trend. We're seeing arrests and admissions to treatment centers with the main complaint being heroin climbing.

This isn't unexpected, given the trends around the nation, but a solution needs to be found. What was once a trickle is now a flow. Action needs to be taken to avoid a flood like is being seen in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Many of the people being drawn into heroin use are not those who would be typically considered "at risk". Much of the increase is being fueled by the runaway use of prescription pain medication such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Efforts to curb the addiction and overdoses seen with these drugs have tightened the supply and lessened the availability of them for legitimate as well as illegitimate uses. This is part a nationwide strategy which has resulted in the implementation of a program called the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, (PDMP). It is a huge database in which the names of patients, prescribing physicians and dispensing pharmacies are logged whenever certain addictive drugs are given out for any purpose.

We're beginning to see some positive results because of this action, but an unintended and very negative consequence has been the proliferation of heroin addiction and attendant heroin trafficking and pushers.

While drug use in South Dakota is not above the national averages in areas other than tobacco and alcohol (slightly above the average in both categories), The use of heroin and methamphetamine are on the rise. In a recent news release, South Dakota's Attorney General stated:

"We look to the Midwest, and Wisconsin shows us that we have an epidemic of heroin use and abuse across the Midwest. It's coming to South Dakota," Jackley said.

Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older in South Dakota, by Substate Region: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010, 2011, and 2012 NSDUHs (Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

South Dakota ranks 2nd lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S., with 6.3 per 100,000 residents.

South Dakota State Government Agencies

Drug Abuse Facts

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