Pubdate: Fri, 29 Dec 2006
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2006 The Capital Times
Note: Usually does not publish letters from outside the state.
Author: Sandra McAnany
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Dear Editor: Two years ago, I learned about methamphetamine and how 
fast lives can be changed by this drug.

When I saw a relative at Christmas in 2004, he was healthy, working 
and excited about life. When I saw him again in March 2005, he had 
become a walking, paranoid, scabbed skeleton.

I had my head in the sand about meth and did not realize what was 
wrong with him until one of his friends called me and said that if I 
cared about him, I better do something right away to get him help.

That was the changing point for me and I started learning about meth 
and its horrifying and sometimes lifelong effects.

I believe today that working with his mother and brother to get 
court-ordered inpatient treatment through the Chapter 51 process 
saved his life.

With the assistance of a county social worker, the corporation 
counsel and the judge, he was committed to an intense inpatient 
program and had the chance to grab the lifeline that treatment 
provided for him.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the number of 
methamphetamine cases dropped in Wisconsin from 726 in 2005 to an 
estimated 500 cases for 2006. Wisconsin is proactively addressing the 
meth issue, but more could be done in 2007 to help ensure that meth 
usage continues to decline.

During 2007 it would be great if individuals, politicians and 
organizations in Wisconsin worked together to:

. Change state laws to make it easier to go through the Chapter 51 
process to get a meth user into a court-ordered treatment program. 
Currently, this process requires having at least three individuals 
who are willing to make out a sworn statement and possibly testify 
about how an individual may be dangerous to themselves or others. 
When it comes to meth, why not err on the side of caution instead of 
civil rights and change the Chapter 51 process to make it easier to 
commit meth users?

. Increase the funding for treatment options for meth users so 
treatment could be provided when needed for users instead of waiting 
for individuals to reach the point of being dangerous to themselves or others.

. Change the health insurance regulations to mandate comparable 
coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorders. Currently, 
many Wisconsin residents cannot access intense inpatient treatment 
programs because of health insurance limits.

. Continue to emphasize meth preventive programs and increase funding 
for these programs.

Meth is a dangerous drug that can cause users to experience long-term 
psychosis, violent mood swings, drastic weight loss, paranoia and in 
some cases death.

2007 is a new year and a great time to increase the steps taken 
throughout Wisconsin to deal with this devastating drug and the 
individuals whose lives are changed by its effects.

Meth prevention and treatment is an investment that Wisconsin needs to make.

Sandra McAnany

Norwalk, Wis.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman