Substance abuse reportedly affects one in three teens

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - For those who do not have a voice, some are speaking out for them.

Jerry Moe, a nationally-recognized expert on childhood issues centered on substance, spoke in Rapid City. He is the national director of the Children’s Program at the Betty Ford Center.

“We are talking about one out of every three boys and girls growing up in America - one out of three almost,” said Moe.

Meth, opioids, heroin and alcohol addictions have become big problems in South Dakota. Preventing the cycle from continuing to the next generation is a daunting task.

Mark Vargo, Pennington County state’s attorney, believes that it will take the whole community to help change direction.

“What it has to be is a holistic approach throughout the community; you have to have your schools involved, your churches involved, your civic organizations involved - because no single entity can approach this,” said Vargo.

Rapid City has in place after-school programs which help children get away from a difficult home life and stay busy.

“A little bit of education and support can go a long way in breaking the circle of alcoholism and drug addiction abuse and trauma. Let’s have prevention on the front end,” said Moe.

There are other places that children can go here in Rapid City, as well.

“The shelter care that we have over at what used to be Juvenile Services Center, that’s been important. That’s been a respite for children sometimes exposed to alcohol and drugs in the home, a place that they can get away to and be somewhere safe and secure,” said Vargo.

And a reminder to those going through a similar situation –

“For boys and girls to understand that it is not their fault and that they are not alone, they are not the only ones,” said Moe.

Right now drug arrests are down slightly from the past two years.

Here is the crime analysis link from 2016 -

https://www.rcgov.org/index.php?option=com_docman&view=download&alias=4716-2016-statistical-report&category_slug=police-department&Itemid=149