Public health and law enforcement agencies in Marathon County are launching a new effort to combat the rising use of methamphetamines in the area.
A broad coalition met in Wausau Tuesday to kick off the Pushback Against Drugs Initiative, which comes in response to an increase in meth use that has mirrored an uptick in heroin abuse in the state. Marathon County sheriff Scott Parks says they’re hoping the effort can bring the same sort of attention to the problem. “If you can bring a community’s attention to, say, a methamphetamine problem, and cause them to rally to try and correct that or cause individuals to do lifestyle change, that’s a key factor.”
Marathon County booked 1237 people last year for controlled substance violations alone, and Parks said “when you figure that the average daily cost to house an individual in the Marathon County jail is 50 dollars, you’re look at approximately $3 million in housing costs just for a controlled substance problem.”
But it’s not just substance abuse itself that becomes an issue. Parks said the county also has to deal with the aftermath of those crimes and the toll they bring to the families of the people harmed by the crimes that get committed by drug users. “Those same persons are involved in other types of crime. Crimes against persons such as domestic violence, aggravated battery or robbery, or crimes against property such as burglary, theft, criminal damage to property, and these are committed by people who are either under the influence, or are attempting to support a controlled substance habit.”
Parks said some estimates say 70 percent of the crime committed in Marathon County have ties to drug use. “If we can make an impact and cause some people not to use substances or to make the right choice, that’s going to be a cost savings across the entire community.”