Trash Truck Used In Attention-Grabbing Anti-Meth Campaign

By Kelly Burch 09/19/17

One community task force is taking a different approach to raising awareness about the increase of meth use in the area.

Image: 
garbage truck with the crystal meth awareness sign
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While much of the nation’s attention is focused on opioid addiction, meth use is also increasing in some areas around the country.

In Wisconsin, one community task force is taking an unconventional approach to warn people of the dangers of meth: equipping a trash truck with a sign reading "The Stuff in Here is the Stuff in Meth.”

"Meth is so toxic," said Ellen Sorensen, coordinator of Drug Free Communities, a task force in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin that organized the sign. "You're really putting garbage in the body.”

Speaking with Fox 11 News, Sorensen says that meth is an increasing concern for her community. "It can be airborne. The toxicity can be inhaled by children or it can be topical through skin contact," Sorensen said. "Many times those children have to go in the hospital and be checked because the proximity of the meth.”

According to a February FBI report, meth use has increased up to 300% in Wisconsin between 2011 and 2015. The subsequent rise in meth labs, intoxicated driving and other issues has cost the state an estimated $424 million annually.

Meth is analyzed at the state crime lab nearly as often as heroin. "Our drug task force investigators are reporting that they are seeing increasingly more meth than they are heroin over the course of the last several months," said Fond du Lac Police Chief Bill Lamb. 

With such an increase, the drug task force wanted to create a public service campaign that would catch people's attention. They borrowed the idea for the garbage truck sign from a neighboring community. "Barron County, WI had this sort of sign on their garbage trucks and found that it had really effective means to their communities," Sorensen said.

For now Fond du Lac only has one sign, which is magnetic and can be moved to different trash tucks around town. 

Officials hope that the signs will create much-needed conversations about meth use. "All of a sudden, it's everywhere again," Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel told NBC News earlier this summer. “We are entering another full-blown epidemic with meth.”

Wisconsin is not alone in combatting meth use. NBC reported that rates of use are up in states ranging from Ohio to Arizona. 

Timothy Mulcahy, a researcher at the University of Chicago, said the nation needs to pay attention. "Now we're at a place where we're going completely backward,” he said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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