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South Dakota:
Under God, the People Rule

Battling the Meth Epidemic

One of my top priorities as Governor has been to aggressively battle the meth epidemic and create a stronger South Dakota for our kids and grandkids.

Meth is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, tearing apart our families and stretching our drug treatment capacity. Meth destroys the people who use it, but it does much more than that – it destroys families and hurts our kids. We see this in our schools, in our foster families, and in our health care providers. This breaks my heart.

We are continuing to work toward expanding 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 also help every South Dakotan 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.

We’ve also gotten 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. The South Dakota Highway Patrol is working daily with local, state, and federal partners to target, disrupt, and dismantle groups that are trafficking drugs in and into South Dakota. Volunteers from our South Dakota National Guard are also helping secure our southern border. Thousands of pounds of meth and other dangerous drugs are pouring across the border into our country – unfortunately, too much of it ends up in South Dakota.

While we ramp up prevention efforts and crack down on enforcement, we must also pave avenues for rehabilitation. Programs like Teen Challenge in Brookings and other recovery initiatives, as well as the seven Intensive Methamphetamine Treatment programs across the state, help people struggling with life-controlling substance abuse by equipping them to become productive members of their community.

I am also investing $15 million over the next four years to support the development and expansion of regional behavioral health centers statewide. This will build on previous investments in short-term mental health services in Yankton, Watertown, and Pennington County. Without comprehensive regional supports in place, individuals in crisis are often intercepted by law enforcement or emergency departments. These new, integrated regional behavioral health centers will include crisis stabilization, residential substance use disorder treatment services, and transitional housing.

We need more options for people trapped in addiction, and we must recognize that second chances are available to people willing to walk the road to recovery. We need to fight the stigma around seeking help for substance use disorders and encourage our loved ones to reach out when they need help. If you or your loved one needs assistance, please call 1-800-920-4343 or visit https://dss.sd.gov/behavioralhealth/services.aspx.

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