Meth use increasing in Madison; use quadruples in state in last decade

What was once considered a problem mostly in rural communities, is now making its way to urban areas like Madison.

The state crime lab is finding that more and more people are using methamphetamine.

Based on reports by the Department of Justice, for the past decade, a majority of meth use has been reported in northern Wisconsin communities. But in recent years, that trend has shifted south.

In 2008, about 300 cases were reported statewide. This year, there have been more than 1,200 statewide.

In Dane County, 7 cases were reported in 2008. This year, 21 cases were reported.

Places like Safe Communities and Tellurian are seeing more people seeking treatment for meth use.

Skye Boughmann, the drug poisoning prevention program manager at Safe Communities, said the rise in meth use may go hand-in-hand with the opioid epidemic.

“As the opioid epidemic got so much worse, a lot of people transitioned from opioids onto methamphetamine because the withdrawal symptoms are not as painful,” she said.

The increase in meth use is something Brian Lochen, the medical director at Tellurian, has also seen more of.

“The meth has come to the Madison area from northern Wisconsin and the Dakotas and rural areas. We are starting to see more of it here,” Lochen said.

Lochen estimates he’s seen a 5-10% increase in patients he treats for meth in the past two years.

Meth dependency is something Boughman has also experienced.

“Personally, I struggled with opioid addiction and cocaine addiction and then I stopped using those and I became dependent on methamphetamine for a while,” Boughman said.

The state crime lab is keeping track of the spread of meth. In the last decade, meth use has quadrupled across the state.

It’s a growing concern for people like Boughman and Lochen because there still is no solid treatment for those who suffer from a meth dependency.

“With meth amphetamines and amphetamines we really don’t have that much in our toolbox,” Boughman said.

Both Boughman and Lochen say they expect to see the numbers of meth users climb even more, but that they’ll continue doing their part to help where they can.

“Addiction is addiction and it’s so damaging,” Boughman said.

Boughman said the best thing you can do to help with the growing problem is to get people help if they need it and to not call those suffering from an addiction, an addict. Boughman said by avoiding the word, it makes the recovery process easier by making the person feel included and part of the community.

If you or someone you know needs help fighting a substance use disorder, there are many resources available. Two of them are listed below.


300 Femrite Drive
Madison, WI 53716
(608) 222-7311 Office
(877) 661-9051 Tollfree

Safe Communities:

2453 Atwood Ave, #209
Madison, WI 53704

Phone: (608) 441-3060
E-mail: Email Us

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