On Wednesday night, Sierra Swenson hosted a presentation about the issue, featuring speakers Jerauld County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Paul Sheldon and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.
The group spent the evening revealing statistics to the approximately 25 attendees and talking about the impact of drugs and alcohol, with Jackley, a 2018 governor candidate, serving as keynote speaker.
Jackley spoke at length about how to solve the drug abuse “epidemic” taking over South Dakota, highlighting the No Meth Ever campaign launched in July and Project Stand Up, an anonymous texting program that encourages members of the public to submit tips about illegal drugs.
According to Jackley, in the past six months, Project Stand Up has resulted in identifying 244 suspects in 69 jurisdictions in the state.
“When you look at opportunities to beat this, you look at prevention,” Jackley said. “Everybody in this room has somebody that you love and care about that’s affected by addiction. This is affecting every family and every community in South Dakota.”
And to put the issue into perspective, Jackley said, South Dakota’s top 10 prescription drugs equate to 1.063 million prescriptions annually. That is notable, he said, because that doesn’t include prescription drugs being used illegally.
“That’s intimidating,” Jackley said. “When you have that many people in the state on prescription drugs, you really need to look at that.”
Swenson put on the event as part of her Senior Experience Project, which is required of every Wessington Springs High School senior. Each year, Wessington Springs seniors are required to do a project that is of interest.
To Swenson, it’s important to help her classmates prepare for the world outside of the “sheltered” community of Wessington Springs as they prepare to embark on their respective post-high school endeavors. Along with Wednesday night’s presentation, a similar