ROSEBUD, SD – The manufacture and use of the illegal drug methamphetamine, or meth, is still a very real problem on the Rosebud Reservation, according to tribal officials.
Meth is a synthetic, man-made drug which affects the central nervous system. Users can smoke, snort or inject methamphetamine. www.methproject.org
When a meth user first gets high, the rest of their time is spent chasing the feeling they got from that first high.
“No matter how bad you feel, you can feel good for several hours after doing meth,” stated Rich Winter who spoke at a recent meeting of the Community President’s Association. He admits to being a former addict. “Your whole life can disappear quickly. It is a mental screw up. I don’t know anyone who was on meth who didn’t fall from their current status.”
When someone is using meth “I can tell,” stated Lori Walking Eagle. She is the Youth and Family Specialist for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Meth Initiative. “I can see it in their aura and facial expressions. I want to give hope. We need some hope out there. People need to know that they can stop.”
She also mentioned the fact that meth users emit a distinct stench. Meth users will have a chemical smell coming off their body either while they are using or after.
According to Walking Eagle, some young people in their early twenties incarcerated in the Rosebud Jail recently admitted to being meth users. One said that his relatives called him a “meth head.” He had a job, an apartment and some nice material possessions. Yet, his meth use caused his life to quickly spiral downward. All of his money was soon being spent on meth. He pawned all of his things and finally began robbing homes to sell stolen goods in order to buy more drugs.
There is also speculation that the group of people who murdered a young man and an elder south of St. Francis on Christmas Eve were high on meth.
When she was initially hired, Walking Eagle stated she saw only a few official reports about meth on Rosebud, yet the information coming from the streets told a different story. The word was that young people were coming from Mission to St. Francis to do meth. Most people are afraid to talk about the problem.
“I want whatever we do to complement whatever the federal agents are doing,” she said. “Law enforcement have to have certain elements in order to build a case, which might include surveillance and interviews. People who test positive for meth risk a felony indictment.”
The problem with obtaining accurate numbers about the number of users are due to several factors. For instance, the symptoms of meth use or withdrawal mirror those of mental illness. Emergency room visits by addicts who are in withdrawal will report depression or they may be suicidal or even homicidal. Medical staff may treat them for mental illness because a drug screen might show up negative due to the substance leaving their system quickly.
Most reports of meth use in the local area come from the larger communities of St. Francis, Antelope and Rosebud. There are also reports of meth being made in mobile units as they are driving onto the reservation from Nebraska.
One goal of the RST Meth Initiative is to create a video of local tribal members who admit to being meth addicts. This is one way to make the problem more real for our people.
If you know of someone who you suspect is using or making meth, you can fill out a Suspicious Activity Reporting Form. This form can be submitted anonymously to authorities. The form is not limited to reports about meth. You can report other suspected drug use also.
Other staff members of the RST Meth Initiative include Kevin Swalley, Sr. and Jordan Rahn.
For more information you may call Lori Walking Eagle at (605) 856-8743.