When Patty Lindberg of Brainerd began her journey to help her son overcome his methamphetamine addiction, she didn't know who to call.
After extensive research on the Internet and many calls to law enforcement and counseling and social services officials, Lindberg slowly received help. Her son was in and out of seven treatment centers before being successfully treated at Archdeacon Gilfillan Center in Bemidji.
Lindberg shared her story during a panel discussion Tuesday at the Brainerd Public Library. The panel was sponsored by the county's Coordinating Area Resources Effectively Committee.
Panel presenters were Andy Galles, with the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division; Janet Jonassen and Joyce Mueller, Crow Wing County public health nurses; Char Donovan, a chemical dependency counselor for area school districts; Margaret Schuett, with Northern Pines Mental Health Center; and Terry Sluss, Crow Wing County commissioner who is the county's methamphetamine prevention coordinator.
The purpose of the panel discussion was to discuss the scope of the meth problem in the area and how to begin to deal with the problem as a community.
Lindberg said parents need to be involved to help fight the meth problem. She said they need to know who to turn to for help.
"I had to take the door off my son's room to know what he was doing. He didn't talk to me for five months (while he was using meth when I was trying to help him). Now he thanks God I got involved."
Helping educate parents and the public on the meth problem is one of the goals of prevention, said Sluss.
"We need to get beyond these walls and into the neighborhoods," said Sluss. "Each of us will have to take this on."
Sluss said there is a meth survey for people to fill out on the county's Web site at www.co.crow-wing.mn.us. He said the survey will help area agencies understand the meth problem.
"We are working on community education programs," said Sluss. "Right now we are in the planning stage. Once we understand the problem we can deal with it."
Galles said meth has become the prevalent drug of choice by people in the area, as well as the state and nation. He said the drug is easy to make, addictive and people make a lot of money selling it.
Galles said he can walk down the street and point to someone who uses meth. He said he can tell by their physical appearance and their behavior. He said a few signs are greasy hair and open wounds to the face and arms.
Lindberg said witnessing her son's behavior was one of the hardest parts in helping him kick meth. She said one day he would be nice to her and the next day he would verbally attack her.
Lindberg said her son is still in treatment, but she is confident he will be successful and kick the meth habit.
"I urge all people to know the signs of meth," she said. "Parents need to open their eyes and be tough."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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