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Crow Wing County Board: Meth rears its head, again

Methamphetamine addiction is on the rise, the Crow Wing County Board heard Tuesday.

“We have families that are addicted to meth,” said Pat Sharbonda, Crow Wing County social worker. “It’s such an intense drug so many things can go wrong in these families.

“Safety factors, risk factors are through the roof. We have children being born testing positive for meth. We have toddlers in the home testing positive for meth.”

The county’s meth calls have increased, said Lynda Erickson, Crow Wing County supervisor for the Child Protection Assessment Unit.

Erickson recalled previous years when meth labs were a problem in the county before enforcement efforts cut labs down.

“We are getting more calls now than we did then,” Erickson said. “It’s worse than it’s ever been.”

Sharbonda said they aren’t seeing the labs as they did before but the drug is here. Parents who kicked the meth habit five years ago have now returned to the drug, Erickson said.

“An old user buddy comes and has some meth, it’s that much of a craving, that much of an addition they are right back into it,” Sharbonda said.

The intensity level of the cases is high, Sharbonda said. In the past case workers may have had 50 percent of their case load in intense cases. Now that number is closer to 80 percent, Sharbonda said.

Six years ago, Sharbonda said it wasn’t uncommon to have a portion of a case worker’s load as maintenance, checking in with people who may have fallen away without the support. Now those cases are closed out faster so case workers can move on to the more intense cases, he said.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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