August 29, 2003 at 9:36 a.m.
Falkowski, who is director of research communications for the Center City treatment and recovery center, has tracked statistics for the National Institute on Drug Abuse for many years. She analyzes studies on fad drugs and popular substances, compiles statistics on drug presence in arrestees, and watches numbers developed through student surveys and reports on emergency room admittance.
“Marijuana lands more youth into treatment than alcohol,” she shared with the audience August 20.
The magnitude of the attention being given to methamphetamine doesn’t correlate to actual methamphetamine deaths, medical attention and treatment sought, she added.
In comparison, over one-half of arrested persons tested in Hennepin County within 12 hours of arrest, were positive for marijuana, she said.
Sheriff Rivard concurred with that , and said his lead jailer estimates at least 80 percent of inmates at the county jail are substance abusers.
Also, of 159 narcotics arrests in Chisago County last year, 103 were related to marijuana. That doesn’t include offenders ticketed for “small amount” who basically just pay a $100 fine.
Rivard, though, explained that meth is a big issue in this county, mostly because of its ripple effect.
The thefts related to getting money for meth are a problem. The impact on social services dealing with neglected children of those caught cooking meth has been huge. Costs of breaking down and disposing of toxic meth labs mount quickly.
According to Rivard there have been 39 meth labs busted the first half of this year.
He said a very realistic estimate would be that there is one meth lab operating within every 5 square miles in Chisago County.
According to Falkowski, the availability of any substance is key to why kids use it.
She added there’s a “growing problem” with access to cough and cold medicine and to pills prescribed for counteracting behavioral problems like ADHD and ADD.
On the good news side-- there’s been a slight decline in use of “club drugs” like ecstacy and there seems to be less inhalant abuse, she said.
Kids abusing are finding dieting stimulants in the family cupboards and taking excessive doses of over-the-counter medicine today, she warned.
“These are not all deviant kids, bad kids, the ones you could point to...it’s just that they see people all around them using pills and that’s how they think...you take a pill to feel better.”
Either through using mood altering substances or by participating in groups who use, the kids seek “connectedness.”
Falkowski said there aren’t positive hangouts for kids to connect at, and the trendy neighborhoods of “mcMansions” and their mini-estate atmosphere aren’t conducive to group activity.
In many areas there’s no downtown to go and meet friends, so youth look for belonging and “warm fuzzy” feelings in physical effects of drugs.
Link and Learn is a program coordinated through Community Partnership, located in North Branch. Tom Koplitz is director. The organization develops after school programming for the North Branch area called “Children First.” It also brings speakers and materials to the public. The youth improv group is part of its program.
The next Link and Learn is scheduled for October 10. More details on topic and location will be finalized and published closer to that date.