Green River Star -

By Lillian Palmer
Staff Writer 

Drug crimes on the rise

 


Local law enforcement recently attended a drug and alcohol seminar focusing on drug-related crime.

Facilitating the seminar was Ernie Johnson of the Governor’s Council on Impaired Driving.

“Every county faces the same issue,” Johnson said. “I don’t think Green River is any worse.”

Johnson said when there are crimes, more often than not, there is alcohol involved. The good news for Wyoming is 8 percent of state crimes are felonies, while the majority, 92 percent are misdemeanors, or minor crimes. While alcohol related crimes have decreased in recent years, the bad news is, meth arrests in Wyoming have doubled in the past two years, according to Johnson.

“Substance abuse is never over,” Johnson said. “Communities can draw the line on what they tolerate and what they won’t.”

While drug-related crimes are on the rise, alcohol-related crimes have been a consistent issue inflicting the nation and isn’t going away. Overconsumption of alcohol is regulated in most states, but is less so in Wyoming.

Wyoming is one of three states that don’t have a law against serving to “obviously drunk” patrons. According to a study Johnson presented, state-wide support for putting that type of law into effect is at 84 percent. Support within Sweetwater County is at 76 percent.

Alcohol related crimes have been around for years and will continue to be, but the rising star of addiction effecting the nation, the state, and Sweetwater County is meth and heroin.

Aside from alcohol, meth remains in high usage as well and has been for more than a decade.

“Meth is holding strong. It definitely has a strong hold in our community,” Laura Schmidt-Pizzato, head of substance abuse for Southwest Counseling Services said.

Schmidt-Pizzato said she is seeing a rise in prescription drugs and heroin use in recent years. The trend she is seeing means heroin will surpass meth at some point in the future.

“The fear is that as people get more addicted to prescription drugs, heroin will continue to rise,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with trying to get the cheapest option.”

People initially get addicted to prescription drugs, but can’t keep up with them because they are so expensive. So, they turn to a cheaper drug, heroin.

“It doesn’t so much matter what drug someone is addicted to, it is devastating, however heroin and meth cause the most crime,” she said.

 

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