In a meeting with United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Sunday, Governor Kristi Noem urged the administration to help address South Dakota’s rising meth epidemic.
“Today, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, and while I applaud your aggressive actions to address opioid addictions, South Dakota’s primary addiction issues are with methamphetamines,” wrote Noem. “Currently, South Dakota does not receive federal funds targeted to meth prevention. We need funding to educate people about the dangers of the drug, strengthen rehabilitation programming, and crack down on drug dealers through added law enforcement.”
Read the full letter below:
Dear Secretary Azar,
I write to you today in support of your efforts to combat America’s rising drug addiction issue. Today, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, and while I applaud your aggressive actions to address opioid addictions, South Dakota’s primary addiction issues are with methamphetamines.
In my home state, meth poses more of a threat than ever before. Last year, drug arrests hit their highest point in a decade. In 2011, there were 402 meth arrests in South Dakota. Last year, that number saw an 816 percent increase – our dedicated law enforcement officers made 3,684 arrests that led to the seizure of 45,918 grams of meth.
I’m working to confront this issue. Meth is destroying families in South Dakota. It is clogging our health care system. It is filling our jails. Now is the time to address our meth epidemic. We must change course.
Currently, South Dakota does not receive federal funds targeted to meth prevention. While the federal substance abuse block grant provides limited funds for treating substance use disorders, it is not adequate to cover the increasing numbers of people needing treatment for meth. We need funding to educate people about the dangers of the drug, strengthen rehabilitation programming, and crack down on drug dealers through added law enforcement.
We also know that meth addiction requires more intense treatment therapy than other addictions. Right now, South Dakota has four treatment programs that have the capacity to serve approximately 200 people per year. Treatment may be limited, but our success rates are strong. I’m confident added facilities and programming would help curb long-term incarceration and break the cycle of addiction.
I would like to draw your attention to the following federal grants that could target both opioid and meth issues:
Opioid Overdose Crisis Cooperative Agreement Supplement: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control – This grant would help train health care providers and first responders to deal with situations involving either meth or opioid overdoses.
Overdose Data to Action (CDC) – This is a future grant that focuses on comprehensive and timely surveillance data, prescription drug monitoring working with prescribers, and state/community support to implement strategies that prevent mortality associated with opioid overdoses. Assessment of the guidance appears to allow flexibility to include “all drugs” in the data collection, analysis, and use of surveillance data. The guidance relative to prevention strategies seems less flexible, stating specifically “interventions of priority will address… prescription and illicit opioids and may address other prescription or illicit drugs to the extent that they are associated with the opioid overdose.” Over the next few weeks, my staff will be developing our application with our project officer. I have asked them to raise this issue and propose flexibility to include meth in our surveillance and prevention plan. We ask for your support in allowing this flexibility prior to our application due date in May.
Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS): Supplemental Opioid and Disability Research (CDC) – PRAMS data helps states develop services for high-risk pregnant women. Allowing the supplemental funds to address meth in addition to opioids would result in better use of resources for pregnant moms. It would help us protect our most vulnerable.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis (Opioid STR) Grant – South Dakota has started several projects with this grant. We have launched teleECHO clinics for opioid treatment, started public service campaigns, and enhanced school and community-based prevention. It is anticipated that South Dakota will have unobligated dollars at the end of the funding period (April 2019). We ask that you consider broadening the ability for states to submit cost extensions that continue the opioid efforts as well as address other drugs-related concerns.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): State Opioid Response Grant – Like the STR grant, this funding was obligated and budgeted as part of the grant application process. Please consider adding flexibility to address other drugs of concern, such as meth, with any carry-over dollars as well as with any new federal grants that may be allocated to support state efforts addressing drug misuse.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Governor of South Dakota