LCO Tribe works to end synthetic drug use on the reservation

By KBJR News 1

March 20, 2014 Updated Mar 20, 2014 at 10:22 PM CDT

Hayward, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Lac Courte Oreilles tribal members are working to end what they say is a growing synthetic drug problem on the reservation.

It was standing room only at the community forum Thursday, with citizens eager to learn ways to rid their community of drugs.

"I didn't know if I was going to get a knock on the door one night from a police officer saying, 'a family member of yours is dead," Shondel Barber, an LCO tribal member said.

Barber is just one of the victims from synthetic drug use that has recently plagued the LCO tribe.

Her family member had to go far away to seek treatment.

"We don't know if he's ever going to come back here, I don't even know if I want him around here," she said.

It's this type of situation that has led the LCO to educate the community.

Health officials educated people on ways to identify drugs and drug users.

Authorities spoke out about the importance of reaching out and helping drug users overcome an addiction.

"Neighbors see things, parents see things, teachers see things, and we need to hear about it from the person who actually saw it in the last 24 hours or 48 hours,” Eric Swan of the LCO Police Department said. “Someone willing to put their name on a statement to say, 'I'm willing to stand up for the community.’"

Violent outbursts and unpredictable behavior is a common problem with synthetic drug users and many in the community do not know what to look for regarding synthetic drugs and drug users.

"Educating the community is one of the most important things,” Mic Isham, LCO Tribal Chairman said. “If we're going to eliminate something, we've got to educate people and that's the number one thing we're doing here."

Surveys were distributed to community members to help the task force get a better picture of the problem.

There was a question and comment session after presentations allowing the task force to gather input from the community on ways to deal with the drugs and users.

Bryce Henry