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Working together to Take a Stand Against Meth

Working together to Take a Stand Against Meth Working together to Take a Stand Against Meth

Community members filled the Cornell High School library, Dec. 11, to learn about methamphetamine use and share ideas of how to stop the widespread problem. The gathering was part of a Take a Stand Against Meth community kick-off.

Rose Baier, campaign coordinator, said the focus of the kick-off is not so much to share the facts about meth, but to share ideas of how to combat the problem.

The campaign works to combat the meth epidemic throughout Chippewa County. The campaign uses a core team, communication team and a number of task force teams comprised of volunteers, to think of ways to stop the widespread effects of meth use.

“It’s (meth) really devastated this side of the state,” said Randy Scholz, county administrator.

Scholz says educating legislators has been an important part of the campaign, which has helped get funding to stop the problem.

Scholz says, once the teams come up with plans, they will need volunteers to help implement the plans.

Goals for the campaign are to reduce out-of-home placements, reduction in meth-related arrests and a reduction in the percentage of Chippewa County youth who report they have used meth.

Those in attendance viewed portions of a documentary and had the opportunity to write down any questions they had for panel members to answer. The full documentary is available on

Marcie Lindbom, a foster mom in Chippewa County and member of the communication team, says her family has had solely meth-related placements. She says her interest in the meth epidemic came after she saw the impact on children and families, and as a teacher in the classroom.

Cornell Police Chief Brian Hurt confirmed that the impact of meth and other drugs is felt locally, including right in Cornell.

“We’re some of the reason why a lot of these kids are in the foster care facilities that they’re in,” said Hurt, “getting them out of some very, very bad living situations.”

Hurt also noted extra money from the city helped the department hire another full-time officer and he has seen the extra help pay off.

Two former users, Jess and Tommy, were also on hand to answer questions those in attendance may have for them. Tommy has been clean for 13 years, and Jess for four years.

“Meth pretty much wrecked my whole life and my family’s life,” said Tommy, adding the impact stretched to every person who came in contact with him during the time he used.

During the documentary, Scholz said he thinks ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) will become the focus of the campaign. He noted youth with more ACEs are more likely to become addicted to something or have health problems.

“As we move forward, I think we can make a positive change for the generation,” said Scholz. “One person can change three, four lives of their children.”

Scholz noted that change works both ways, positive and negative.

Jess talked about how she turned to meth after a loss, in the documentary. She said at first, it made her feel like Superman and energized, but the feeling wore off after a while. Jess says meth became a lifestyle, and she needed it to just stay awake and get through the day.

Jess says her meth use led to isolation from her family, friends and the activities she enjoyed, because she didn’t want them to know what she was doing. Her children were removed from her care, twice.

“You get stuck,” said Jess. “You don’t know how to get out of that cycle.”

Jess says recovery court played a huge role in her recovery, as did an in-patient treatment and community support. She says landlords and employers who gave her a chance after treatment, helped her get back on her feet.

“I can’t say there were never good times, because there was the moment, but now when I look back, those supposed good times were nothing like I have now,” said Jess. “It’s not worth it.”

Lindbom described how she and her husband became interested in fostering youth. She says it is a learning experience getting the kids and there is no real way to prepare someone for a placement, until they have their first placement.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Lindbom, of receiving their first placement. “It’s terrifying. It’s sad.”

Lindbom noted, even when they already have placements, they still have received calls to take more children. She also noted that it can be tough to give back children after having them, but says helping the kids is more important than protecting her emotions.

“This isn’t just a problem for the family,” said Lindbom. “This is like a pebble in a pond, the ripples are far-reaching.”

Lindbom says drug use affects the immediate family, but also extended family, her family, schools and taxpayers. She says fostering has been a rewarding experience.

The documentary also contained a portion of Jess’ daughter discussing how her mother’s drug use affected her and her relationship with the foster family she was placed with.

Jess says it took a while for her family to come around and some still haven’t. Treatment and counselling has helped her self-esteem, and confidence, something Jess says she struggled with before she started using. She says she no longer needs other people to make her happy.

“It took a long time to get over the guilt,” said Jess, adding that she has regrets, but says she won’t let those regrets control her life.

Now, Jess says she wants to be an inspiration and show people what they can overcome with help. She says change will have to come from the community giving people a chance.

Following the documentary, attendees had the chance to ask questions. The first question, directed at Hurt, asked how to support recovery among addicts, without tolerating using and dealing in the town.

“That’s very tough,” said Hurt.

Hurt says how well you know the person depends on how you handle it. He says it is important to show family and friends struggling with use, you support them getting treatment, then standing by them through the recovery program.

“We will never arrest our way out of a drug program,” said Hurt.

Tommy said a pivotal moment in his recovery was when a West Central Drug Task Force agent visited him during his recovery program and told Tommy to call him if he ever felt like going back to his old life, so the agent could take him on a trip down memory lane.

Tommy also said his probation officer was important to his recovery.

“He gave me a chance when no one else would,” said Tommy. “I was pretty much on my way back to prison, for probably 36 years, when he stopped it from happening.”

When it comes to showing a community will not tolerate drug use, Hurt says it comes down to working with law enforcement. He says to tell law enforcement if you see something suspicious.

Others asked Jess what could have helped her handle her loss without turning to drugs. Jess says learning coping techniques in school may have helped.

“When that happened, I didn’t know how to deal with it,” said Jess.

Jess and Tommy were also asked if they started with meth use, or if they used other drugs first. Tommy says he started young, stealing beer, and moved on to hallucinogenics and cocaine, before turning to meth.

“There was no looking back after that,” said Tommy.

Baier also says drugs can be laced, so you never know what you are getting.

Lindbom also talked about the process for becoming a foster parent. She said the process took about six months and consists of a lot of paperwork, some interviews and a home study.

“It sounds like a lot, but each little part wasn’t overwhelming,” said Lindbom.

Lindbom also says she and her husband did some online learning during the process, and have continued learning for the first two years they have placements.

After the panel discussion, attendees were split into small groups to brainstorm solutions to a number of questions campaign task forces came up with.

Questions the small groups considered included: How can we, as a community, help law enforcement with meth coming into our community? How can we help children who have experienced ACEs? What would a safe support church look like? How can businesses support recovery? Where should the service organization task force team focus their efforts? What can the community do to address long-term treatment needs and treatment costs?

Notes from each of the small group discussions were forwarded to the appropriate task force team.

Baier wrapped up the program by saying more volunteers are needed for various projects the campaign is doing, and encouraginganyoneinterestedtovisittakeastandagainstmeth. org to join the volunteer list.