CHICAGO (AP) — Jess Przybylski had never really dealt with loss. Then the father of her children was killed in a car crash. In 2011, her friends offered her methamphetamine to distract from the grief.
Soon after, Przybylski lost her job. Her two children were taken from her once, then once more when she was caught faking a drug test. A growing rap sheet eclipsed her college degree as she lost cars, relationships — and nearly her life.
“It was a one-time thing, and that was it,” Przybylski, who lives in Chippewa Falls in northwest Wisconsin, says of her meth addiction. “It started out slow, but it was a pretty hard downward spiral for about five years . It gets to be where it just takes over your life and it’s not fun anymore. It’s all you think about.”
Like other amphetamines, meth elevates dopamine levels in the brain, creating a rush. But it is significantly more powerful than stimulants like cocaine, says Timothy Easker, director of Chippewa County Department of Human Services.
Meth can keep individuals awake for days on end, causing psychosis and even organ failure.
While the widely known opioid epidemic killed 3,800 people in Wisconsin between