The Burnet County Sentinel explores the impact of a growing meth crisis, that while largely hidden from view, is impacting residents in multiple counties across the state.

While the widely known opioid epidemic killed 3,800 people in Wisconsin between 2014 and 2018, a surge in meth use has quietly supplanted opioids in western and northern parts of the state, according to service providers and public health officials.

The State Crime Laboratory handled 1,452 meth cases in 2018 — an increase of more than 450% since 2008. The number far exceeded the 1,055 heroin cases handled by the lab that year.

Unlike some Midwestern states, where police shut down hundreds of meth labs a year, in Wisconsin, the problem is more hidden, reports The Sentinel.

In some ways, treating an addiction to meth is more difficult than opioids.
There is no FDA-approved medication to help with meth withdrawal. And it can take an entire 28-day program to withdraw, making patients unable to focus on treatment, says Corina Fisher, behavioral care therapist at Prevea Health in Chippewa Falls.

Fisher told The Sentinel that longer-term programs that span months to a year are “very beneficial” for recovery, especially for meth, which has a high relapse potential.

“In some ways, we focus more on the opioids because there’s ways to solve the problem. There’s medications, there’s watching how you’re prescribing it … but with meth, we have very limited options of how to fully stop it,” Fisher says.