Getting A Head Start On Substance Abuse Prevention

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The meth epidemic impacts cities all across KELOLAND. 

This week, Governor Kristi Noem laid out a plan to tackle the problem in her first budget address. 

Governor Noem proposed spending $4.6 million to confront the meth epidemic. 

The money would go towards a variety of areas including school-based education, such as life skills training programs in middle schools. 

It would include 15 sessions per year for the three years kids are in middle school. 

“It has been proven to reduce the risk of alcohol, tobacco, violence, and drug abuse through the teaching of drug resistance, life management, and general social skills,” Governor Noem said. 

KELOLAND News sat down with two professionals to talk about the issue. 

While, they didn’t talk specifically about the proposal, they did talk about why it is important to reach kids sooner rather than later.

Life can be difficult when you’re a middle schooler. 

“They so want to fit in. It’s just such an impressionable age and some of those decisions they need help in making them,” Kris Zortman said. 

Kriz Zortman is a sixth grade health and PE teacher at Memorial Middle School in Sioux Falls. 

She tackles the topics of alcohol, tobacco, and inhalants. 

“We like to talk about the effects on the body that these drugs or substances could do, not only on the body physically, but mentally, socially, and how they can affect your life,” Zortman said. 

Some have already seen the affects of substance use firsthand.

“At the in-patient level we’re seeing kids exposed first use anywhere from 8-12,” Christy Alten-Osmera said. 

Christy Alten Osmera with Keystone Treatment Center in Canton says alcohol and vaping are common right now, and they can lead to more problems down the road. 

“It’s getting to be a bit of a gateway where it’s going to get them into things like marijuana and even in the longer term thinks like methamphetamine,” Alten-Osmera said. 

She says kids as young as 10 or 11 have tried meth, and the earlier you can reach all kids, the better. 

“But I do think kids are getting information from various outlets at ages 10,9. At very young ages they’re being exposed whether it be TV, radio, music, movies. And I think we need to give them the ability to sort through that information and decide what’s accurate and what’s not accurate,” Alten-Osmera said. 

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