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Meth use has skyrocketed in Wisconsin, study shows

Most adults in Wisconsin have heard about the opioid epidemic that's gripping the United States. Over-prescription of painkillers, ease of access and high potential for addiction are just some of the contributing factors.

However, right alongside opioid addiction is another continuing epidemic: addiction to methamphetamines. Unlike opioids, which can be obtained legally with a prescription, meth may originate from home "laboratories" or other supply chains that often originate outside the country. The medical and societal effects of meth addiction can be extremely serious, which is why some lawmakers have taken notice.

A Rising Tide

A recent study of over 10 million drug test results from 2013 to 2017 found sobering results. While opioid use had declined by double digits -- likely a result of efforts at the state and national level -- drug use at work was at the highest rate in more than 10 years. Specifically, methamphetamine use is skyrocketing nationwide. The largest jumps have come from the Midwest, where meth use is up an astonishing 167 percent in the last four years.

What's Being Done

The decline of opioid use is an encouraging sign for officials looking to curb methamphetamine use. Unfortunately, meth treatment options are more limited. Unlike heroin or opiates, there isn't medication-assisted treatment to blunt the effects of withdrawal, which makes meth harder to stop using once a person has started.

Western Wisconsin has started the "Know Meth" public awareness campaign to combat use in the counties bordering Minnesota. However, no similar programs exist near Milwaukee, which has its share of methamphetamine trafficking.

Legal Consequences

Generally, in Wisconsin, first-time possession of a small amount of methamphetamine possession is a misdemeanor. However, second-time possession of meth is felony, which carries a penalty of up to 3.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Due to the addictive nature of meth, repeat offenses are common.

While treatment options for meth addiction are gradually progressing, many users find themselves facing criminal charges, even while trying to quit using. If you are facing a meth charge of any kind, you'll need to mount your best defense to protect yourself from negative consequences.

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