Tackling Meth in Minnesota - One Former Addict's Story

4:25 PM, Jan 27, 2006   |    comments
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Meth Resource List

Note: This list is meant to be a partial list of information sources, KARE 11 does not endorse any particular treatment program.

It's in cities, suburbs and schools. The nationwide meth problem is also a Minnesota problem. KARE 11 will run a 1/2 hour meth special January 28 at 7 p.m. The story that follows is one included in the meth special.

A two-day conference kicked off last month in Ramsey County to address meth addiction. The conference focused on education, prevention, treatment, intervention and enforcement. It was organized by Ramsey County, where the sheriff's department has put a lot of resources into fighting the growing meth problem. Crystal meth dominates most local drug investigations.

Sergeant Rich Clark heads the narcotics division for Ramsey County. Clark says the meth problem has become epidemic because it's highly addictive. 90 percent of drug complaints that come into the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department are about meth. 75 to 80 percent of drug investigations are meth-related. "There's more meth on the streets than I've ever seen. I can go to anyplace in the Twin Cities...anyplace in Minnesota and find meth," says Sergeant Clark. In 1993, 7 percent of arrests made by Minnesota drug task forces were meth-related.

That number jumped to 44 percent in 2003. In the east metro, federal meth prosecutions have gone up 400 to 500 percent in the last two years. County prosecutions have also skyrocketed. Law enforcement officials, the medical community and recovering addicts are tackling Minnesota's meth problem.

Sara Hejny learned her lesson the hard way. She spends a lot of time now answering e-mail and she's always very careful about what she writes. That's because Sara's words have the potential to save someone's life. "What I'm telling this mother is in the early stages if you get a hold of it now, they have a better chance of getting this under control," says Sara. Sara works in the meth education program for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department. She's answering a call for help from the parent of an addict. But just as easily as Sara is sitting behind this desk in the county sheriff's office, she could be behind bars in the county jail. Just a few years ago, Sara Hejny had what many might describe as a perfect life. "I grew up in a good home. Drugs and alcohol were never an issue in our home. I went to private school. I was competing in beauty pageants. I had a fairy tale wedding," says Sara. But soon, trouble at home led Sara to a drug she first discovered in high school - meth. "I started using to medicate the problems that were going on. It was just a matter of time before I started using everyday."

Sara's life quickly went into a free fall. Addicted to meth, she lost her husband, her daughter and her family's trust. "I started having some of the worst criminals hanging out at my house. Stolen cars, check forgery - doing anything I could to get my drug." That's when Sara wrote a letter to a television program. Intervention on A & E documented Sara's life as a meth addict. The honesty was shocking. The effect on those around her was devastating. Family and friends staged an intervention and Sara took her last hit of meth.

Sara went through treatment and a year later, doesn't even recognize the addict she once was. Sara Hejny is now on the other side of the law - visiting schools, prisons - talking to anyone who will listen to her warning about the drug that almost took her life. "There's such an accomplishment in my life that I've gotten to this point and I'm making a difference in people's lives."

If you missed Saturday's special, you can see the other stories by clicking on the links below. Part 2: Meth labs out, importing meth in Part 3: Meth's effects on child welfare system

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