Methamphetamine use on the rise in La Crosse, consistent with new study

Study says meth cases tripled in Wisconsin

Methamphetamine use has tripled in Wisconsin since 2011, according to a new study.

The La Crosse area is seeing similar numbers.

The study, which comes from the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the FBI, began with 10 statewide roundtables in July of 2015.

The report details how the use of meth in Wisconsin has likely jumped 300 percent based on arrests, charges and seizure of the drug.

Law-enforcement officials say this report confirms what several local agencies are already doing to combat meth use.

Tom Johnson is the investigative coordinator for the West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group, or MEG unit.

He says the report’s claim of methamphetamine use tripling in Wisconsin isn’t surprising.

“In La Crosse County, methamphetamine still remains number one in terms of charges being booked into the jail,” Johnson said.

Johnson says the efforts to combat heroin use may have something to do with the increase.

“We had done such an outstanding job over the past few years of educating the public on the dangers of heroin, which we saw spike in the area, that a lot people have decided to use methamphetamine as an alternatives, thinking it’s a safer drug with less (of) a chance of overdose,” Johnson said.

The report also discusses the connection between Adderall, a drug used to treat ADHD, and meth use, something Dr. Chris Eberlein at Gundersen Health System finds concerning.

“There is a comparison between Adderall-prescribing practices and methamphetamine use, compared to the opiate-prescribing practices and the heroin use we’ve seen,” Eberlein said.

Wisconsin is launching a new prescription drug monitoring site next week, something Eberlein says will help prevention efforts.

“With the new prescription drug monitoring program, all controlled substances are entered into that, and you have to check that, before prescribing, and that includes your stimulants, such as Adderall,” Eberlein said.

While doctors and health experts focus on prevention, Johnson says the report reaffirms what groups such as the MEG unit are already doing.

“It tells me we are looking at things from the right perspective. We have identified the sourcing and the areas and so forth, and the guys just need to keep on keep on working on the cases we have,” Johnson said. “We don’t focus on the daily street user, we’re focusing on the trafficking and sourcing that’s coming into the area.”

The report also claims that Wisconsin’s methamphetamine is now produced through Mexico and trafficked into the state through California and Minnesota.

Johnson says that fact is very consistent with his findings, and with efforts to crack down on the drug.

Doctors say overdosing from methamphetamine use is uncommon, but abuse of the drug can lead to heart, liver and neurological problems, which doctors say can be just as dangerous.