State fights meth battle with education, awareness

WORTHINGTON -- Meth abuse exacts a heavy toll -- both human and financial -- on users, their families, their friends and their surrounding communities.

WORTHINGTON -- Meth abuse exacts a heavy toll -- both human and financial -- on users, their families, their friends and their surrounding communities.

The societal cost of methamphetamine in Minnesota topped $130 million in 2004, including the cost of law enforcement, prosecution, corrections, child welfare and environmental clean-up. The $130 million does not include meth-related costs such as health care, burglary, domestic assault and child abuse.

To combat the meth epidemic, several important tools can be used, including awareness and education.

The Minnesota County Attorneys Association (MCAA) has launched a Web site that provides information and resources about meth at . The site offers information on topics such as the effects of meth on a user's body, meth's impact on Minnesota, personal stories of recovering addicts and actions to combat the epidemic. It is intended to help individuals, families and communities take action against the widespread problem of meth addiction.

The MCAA also produced a 55-minute educational documentary featuring recovering addicts, medical professionals, criminal justice officials and others familiar with the devastating impact of the drug. The documentary premiered Feb. 5 at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul, and will soon be available to the public through Minnesota's 87 county attorneys and from the MCAA.


Narrated by WCCO-TV anchor Don Shelby, "Revealing Meth in Minnesota" features interviews with 20 individuals, including six recovering addicts. The documentary can be viewed in its full length of 55 minutes, or in shorter versions of 25 minutes and 10 minutes.

Not only intended to raise public awareness, the documentary also can serve as an educational tool for schools, community groups, faith communities and other organizations. In DVD format, the cost is only $5, which covers shipping and handling.

Each copy of the DVD comes with a brief discussion guide, designed to help facilitate conversation with various audiences. Specific discussion points are provided for community members, policy makers, educators, parents and students.

Some meth statistics:

- Almost 70 percent of Minnesota counties have reported increased child protection cases and out-of-home placements because of meth abuse.

- Anoka County estimates that at least 50 percent of their open child protection cases are related to meth abuse by the parents. That amounts to 165 out of 330 cases.

- Approximately 90 percent of the financial crimes investigated by the Minnesota Financial Crimes Taskforce are connected to either meth or crack abuse by the defendant, including identity theft.

- Theft of copper and other metals at unoccupied homes is up, and the increase is blamed on meth addicts looking for scrap metals to sell for drug money.


- A typical meth lab case in Ramsey County costs between $140,000 and $149,000.

- The number of meth offenders in Minnesota state prisons has increased 390 percent since 2001.

- Since 2000, Minnesota prosecutors have filed more than 24,000 meth charges.

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