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Wyoming's Methamphetamine Initiative: The Power of Informed Process

NCJ Number
David Singh
Date Published
May 2001
15 pages
Publication Series
Wyoming's ambitious initiative to rid the State of methamphetamine and methamphetamine addiction is under way, and it marks a shift in priorities from enforcement to treatment.
Wyoming's vast and remote frontier land made it an ideal location for methamphetamine labs, and in 1992, law enforcement agencies noted they were making more and more arrests each year related to methamphetamine. An epidemiologist and public health professional was called in to examine patterns of methamphetamine use in Wyoming. Among other shocking findings, Wyoming eighth graders had higher methamphetamine user rates than high school seniors nationwide. Central to Wyoming's war on meth was the Governor's Substance Abuse and Violent Crime Advisory Board established in 1987. It was mandated to develop a comprehensive crime and drug control strategy for the State. A public education campaign was a critical element in the board's strategy to address the methamphetamine crisis in the State. Armed with public support, the board could turn to the next step, i.e., convincing the legislature that funds were needed for a comprehensive methamphetamine initiative. Instead of asking for a lot of money for indiscriminate use in treatment, prevention, and intervention, the board focused on establishing research-based and proven practices. Their plan was to establish drug treatment, intervention, and prevention pilot programs throughout the State before devoting long-term assistance to any one initiative. The board succeeded in convincing the legislature to fund its strategy. The board's securing of $3.2 million to combat methamphetamine provided a foundation on which to build. The success of Wyoming's Meth Initiative is an unfolding story, one that can only be fully told as the State evaluates the impact of its efforts. The use of research to drive policy was a lesson in the power of making informed decisions.

Date Published: May 1, 2001