When most people think of Wisconsin, they probably think of cheese. After all, when a state or group of people is especially good at something, it’s not hard to get a reputation that is difficult to shake. It’s not just cheese that Wisconsin is famous for, though. It’s also a state with a reputation for honest, wholesome people that work hard to provide for their families. You can also feel safe in Wisconsin’s multitude of small towns and among the friendly, welcoming people that inhabit them.

While that has been true for decades, to some degree it is changing with recent drug use statistics. Whenever drug use begins to be a problem in any area, crime and rampant immorality are soon to follow. No one wants to see Wisconsin go that route, so it is vital that communities and individual families start taking a stand against the drug use that is starting to hit epidemic levels.

It may surprise most people, but Wisconsin is actually in the top ten out of all the states in several drug use categories. For example, Wisconsin residents are in the top ten for past-year cocaine use among people 12 years old and older. They are also in that range for past-year cocaine use among 18 to 25-year-olds and to past-year illegal use of opiate painkillers among people 12 years old and older.

One reason that this information is so alarming is that it shows that drug use is rapidly expanding among Wisconsin’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Instead of drug abuse being a problem only of older residents, people as young as 12 are using extremely powerful opiate drugs! These pain pills can easily kill the people that take them, yet our youngest residents are getting their hands on them.

We need to turn these trends around right now, and we care start doing that with education.

Drug Use Trends in Wisconsin

By learning about what drugs are most commonly used by our residents, we can start to focus on which substances are invading our communities at the greatest rates. After all, you need to know who your enemy is if you want to have any hope of effectively fighting it.

In Wisconsin, that enemy isn’t always easily apparent. The drugs that we might think are the most common often aren’t. For example, methamphetamine gets a lot of press (and rightfully so) as being an extremely dangerous drug, but it is actually only the fifth worst drug in Wisconsin in terms of the number of people that have to go to rehab for treatment due to abusing the drug.

When we know what the most popular drugs actually are, we can start learning what the drug abuse signs are and what we need to do if a loved one is abusing each type of drug. With that in mind, her are the top drugs being used in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Drug Control Update:

Marijuana

That this drug tops the list isn’t much of a surprise. Marijuana has long been one of the most popular drugs across the entire country, and that has held true for Wisconsin. With the legalization of marijuana in over twenty states, it is no longer even difficult to get access to this drug. “Medical” marijuana is not yet legal in Wisconsin, but that could change soon. Some drugs that are made from marijuana were just legalized recently, and full-scale legalization could follow if Wisconsin decides to go the route of states like Colorado and Washington.

Cocaine

This drug has long been one of the most popular across the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. Cocaine is actually very expensive, and it has been declining in popularity as cheaper, more powerful drugs have popped up.

Prescription Opiates

These painkiller drugs closely follow cocaine in terms of current popularity, and they are set to get even more popular in coming years. Opiate painkillers are powerful and legal pills that you can get prescribed by almost any doctor (even dentists can prescribe them after  working on your teeth.) While they are promoted by pharmaceutical companies as necessary medications, they are actually incredibly dangerous and powerful narcotics. In fact, most of the people that are currently dying in America from drug overdoses were using prescription painkillers. If we don’t start changing the public perception of these drugs to encourage greater caution, we could see even more people dying from these pain pills.

Heroin

This opiate drug used to be a legal method of dulling pain, just as prescription painkillers are now supposed to be used for. When authorities discovered just how dangerous heroin was, it was placed into the status of being an illegal drug, and prescription pills were developed to take its place. A new epidemic of heroin use is now beginning, however, because pain pills can be hard for addicts to get, and they’re incredibly expensive, to boot. That makes heroin an equally powerful but far cheaper alternative for opiate addicts. Lowering the usage of this drug may only be possible if we also lower the usage of prescription opiates across Wisconsin.

Stimulants

This category of drugs includes methamphetamine. Stimulants all speed up your heart rate, respiratory rate and the rest of your body’s vital systems. They can make you think that you have a lot of extra energy, but in fact you are running on toxic chemicals that are actively tearing your body apart. Stimulant may only be the fifth-most popular drug in Wisconsin right now, but they are still incredibly dangerous.

Saving Wisconsin Communities from Addiction with Treatment

The best strategy that any community can employ to fight against drug addiction is to start arming individual citizens with the knowledge and resources to handle substance abuse on a case-by-case basis when they become aware of it. Instead of relying on the Wisconsin state government or the federal government to do something about drug abuse, individuals can have the greatest impact on turning drug use trends around.

For example, the vast majority of addicts that get treatment for their addictions are not referred to treatment by some government entity. They had family members or friends that spotted something strange and cared enough to find out what was going on. It takes a lot of courage to confront a loved one and to find out what is going on when they are acting weird or have strange symptoms that you’ve never seen before. This is where education makes all the difference.

When you know what the symptoms of drug abuse look like, you can actually take action to get a loved one into a results-based rehab center in a reasonable amount of time. If you don’t know what the symptoms are, you’ll be left scratching your head as you find your money being stolen and the person you care about seeming to physically fall apart before your eyes. In order to start making a difference right now, start getting educated today. Then, when you see the signs of drug abuse, do something instead of deciding that handling drug addiction is someone else’s problem. Your family members and friends will thank you for making a difference in their lives.

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