Meth In Wisconsin: An In Wisconsin Special

This documentary originally aired statewide in February 2006.

It's called the most addictive of all illegal drugs, and once caught in its grasp, the recovery rate for users is extraordinarily low. The use of methamphetamine—meth for short—has reached near crisis levels in western Wisconsin. This half-hour special describes the drug's growth in Wisconsin, addiction, law enforcement and potential solutions to the problem.

Meth in Wisconsin is made up of four reports that originally aired in the In Wisconsin series in late 2005 and have been updated for this special. The four original reports can also be viewed here along with links to additional information.

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Part 1: The Western Front

Use of the illegal drug meth has been flooding law enforcement officials and health care workers in the western part of the state, particularly St. Croix, Polk, Pierce and Barron counties. This first report in our four-part series details what the drug is, how cheap and easy it is to acquire, and what it does to the user and to the communities in Wisconsin where it is being bought and sold.

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Part 2: Addiction

This segment focuses on the meth user or addict. In late 2005, state and federal studies estimated 10,000 people in Wisconsin had tried meth in the past twelve months, and the number of people arrested for meth was skyrocketing. Producer Frederica Freyberg talks with several former users, some of whom were still in jail. They give personal insight into what they call the "highest of highs" and the "lowest of lows." Most lost their freedom, their jobs, and some even lost their families as children were taken into protective custody. This report also includes information about the medical and mental effects of the powerful stimulant.

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Part 3: Doing Battle

This segment focuses on the challenges and costs facing law enforcement agencies as meth use reaches near epidemic levels in some parts of Wisconsin, swamping courts, jails and social service agencies. One officer says he can't possibly "arrest his way out of this" and considers meth to be a public health crisis. Meth is coming into Wisconsin from so-called "superlabs" in other states and Mexico. But it is also being made in small, home-based labs where the toxic combination of chemicals creates an explosive hazard. In this report, Producer Frederica Freyberg looks at the legal, financial and human toll of the meth problem.

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Part 4: The Fix

This final report in our series on methamphetamine in Wisconsin looks at possible solutions to the problem. It includes an exploration of education and prevention techniques to aid law enforcement efforts; work by elected officials to find more money to help with prevention efforts and treatment for users; and a look at the statewide meth summits coordinated by the State Attorney General as well as the recommendations that have come from those meetings.

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