Meth leads hard drug use in countyThe steadily increasing number of methamphetamine cases in St. Croix County has subsided since a peak in 2004-05, but meth use is still a significant problem.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
The steadily increasing number of methamphetamine cases in St. Croix County has subsided since a peak in 2004-05, but meth use is still a significant problem.
While the drop in cases is overall a good thing, the trend has Sheriff Dennis Hillstead concerned.
“The one thing I fear,” he said in a conversation last week, “is because the meth problem has dwindled, the public is not getting the same kind of education about the harmful effects of the drug.”
And the 2008 statistics recently released show that St. Croix County still leads the state in the number of meth cases, said Investigator Dave Gifford.
The sheriff said the tide turned from the peak years for two reasons: a 2005 state law that placed over-the-counter medicine with ephedrine, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of meth, behind the counter in pharmacies, along with a widespread educational effort in schools, churches, 4-H clubs and other youth organizations countywide.
In the last five years, the sheriff said local meth labs have all but disappeared, and most of the drug that reaches the county comes from California or Mexico through the Twin Cities.
“Young girls are intrigued by meth because it can contribute to weight loss, but it also causes tremendous harm to the body,” the sheriff said. “When we explained to kids the physically harmful effects of the drug, I think it had an impact.”
When asked what the biggest drug problem in the county was, he said: “Alcohol, leads the list, but meth is still a significant problem. We don’t see young people using meth like they were. The average user is 30 years old.”
“Meth is being used by older people,” said Gifford. “Dealers are cautious who they sell to and they don’t distribute to younger people unless they know them well.”
As far as other drug activity in the county, Hillstead said there is a small group of known heroine users, all adults. He said the price of heroine dropped a while ago. The users known to local law enforcement buy the drug in the Twin Cities, and there aren’t any known dealers in the Hudson area.
“We are only seeing it (heroine) in Hudson with one group,” said Gifford.
“Ecstasy is still around, but we haven’t had any intelligence on any Rave parties in the county,” Hillstead said.
Marijuana and prescription drugs are the choice of the younger set currently.
The sheriff said marijuana is always present. “There is high usage of marijuana, and a lot of high school-age kids are using it,” Hillstead said.
A relatively recent problem with the young set is illicit use of prescription drugs.
“Unfortunately, they take prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets, take anything they can get, mix them up to the point they don’t know what they have and use the drugs,” Hillstead said.
“They take prescription drugs and crush them up and shoot it or snort it,” said Gifford. The investigator said in addition to raiding the medicine chest, the younger set does a lot of “doctor shopping” and visits to emergency rooms to obtain prescriptions.