One of my priorities is to aggressively battle the meth epidemic to create a stronger South Dakota for the next generation.
As I’ve talked with first-responders about our meth problem, they’ve told me of situations where they walk into homes of meth users and find kids starving in their bedrooms, their parents drugged out of their minds. Stories like this are frequent.
Meth is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, and stretching our drug treatment capacity. But meth is rarely made in South Dakota anymore, the vast majority of this meth is coming from Mexico. Our meth epidemic is the price we are paying for our nation’s failure to adequately secure our southern border.
Meth destroys people, but it does much more. It destroys families. It hurts our kids, and we see that in our schools, in our foster families, and in our health care providers. This breaks my heart. Not because I’m the governor. Because I’m a mom.
In the coming months and years, we’ll work toward expand prevention and treatment programs. We need to do more to educate our young people about the effects of meth and give them strategies to avoid it. We’ll also help every South Dakotan learn to identify the early signs of meth use to increase early referrals to treatment. I want to reach meth users before they enter the criminal justice system and commit other crimes. Our objective isn’t to imprison people – that hurts families too. We need additional mental health services. We must help people beat their meth addiction and return to their jobs and families.
Furthermore, we’re going to get more aggressive in enforcing our laws against meth. We need to stop the traffic of meth into our state and crack down on those who deal drugs.
And while we crack down on enforcement, we must pave avenues for rehabilitation. Teen Challenge in Brookings is an incredible program that helps people struggling with life-controlling substance abuse and equips them to become productive members of their community. We need more options for people trapped in addiction, recognizing that second chances are available to people willing to walk the road to recovery. I recognize that this is a big problem to tackle, but I’m committed to confronting it, and I’m confident I have the plan to do just that.