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Brown County Browser: Drug use impacts us in many different ways

Frequent headlines throughout local, state, and national media sources speak of various drug epidemics and the affects those epidemics have on communities. You may ask yourself, what is being done about drug problems in our community? Our community is fortunate to have numerous professionals working on this problem. From law enforcement, social workers, and the court system, to community members and chemical dependency providers, all have the similar goals of making our community a safer and a healthier place to live.

It’s easy to see reports of arrests related to the possession or sale of illicit drugs and view that as the measure of whether or not there is a problem. These reports certainly confirm there are individuals engaging in this activity, but they don’t always shed light on how the arrestee’s behavior leading up to that arrest has influenced the family, friends, and the community in general. Addicts struggle to fulfill their obligations as fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and close friends. Children suffer.

An addict’s financial situation struggles because they can’t keep a job and some resort to stealing things to support their habit. An addict with a mental health problem only compounds the issue by taking illicit drugs. Dealers make drugs more accessible and can become violent with those to which they buy or sell. The community becomes less safe by all of these things. A new admission to a mental health placement, or a new child protection case is just as much a measure of the problem as an arrest for a drug crime.

Common illicit drugs of abuse for adults in Brown County are methamphetamine, marijuana, and opioids. Professionals in the court system would anecdotally confirm these are the common drugs abused. Some drugs of abuse by students in Brown County, according to the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, are marijuana, ADHD medication, hallucinogens, methamphetamine, and cocaine. The percent of students using drugs other than marijuana was by percentage very low.

Brown County is fortunate to have law enforcement officers who are dedicated to enforcing drug sale and possession laws. This results in arrests for charges ranging from possession of methamphetamine pipes to possessing multiple pounds of methamphetamine. This is vital to discourage users and dealers from blatantly making the substances available without fear of prosecution.

Brown County is also fortunate to have social workers and probation agents who recognize the effects of addiction. When a child protection case regarding an addicted parent comes in or a probationer can’t stop using drugs, they provide needed immediate consequence, but also look for ways to attempt to heal the person in the long-term. Brown County is also fortunate to have local treatment facilities such as the New Ulm Medical Center who provide needed counseling for addiction, and a thriving Drug Court which encourages long-term sobriety.

We in the Brown County Attorney’s office have the unique perspective of assisting all other components of the community response to drug problems within the county. Whether it means sending dealers to prison, aggressively protecting children with addicted parents, or supporting participation in Drug Court, our focus is on the shared goals of protecting the public while promoting long-term sobriety for addicts.

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