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A profile of Wadena County's chemically dependent

Mental health issues are a barrier to treatment for 25 percent of people receiving chemical dependency treatment in Wadena County, according to a recent Drug and Alcohol Abuse Normative Evaluation System report.

"So a fourth of everybody has mental health issues that are significant enough to cause some problems to treatment," Social Worker and Rule 25 Assessor Mike Willie said. "That's substantial."

Willie presented results from the DAANES report at the June Wadena County Social Services board meeting.

Lori Miller, a social services supervisor, pointed out that a high rate of mental illness is also common among Wadena County inmates who participate in the county's Release Action Planning program. Inmates served by RAP in 2008 also have a high rate of chemical dependency.

Alcohol is the substance of choice for abuse in Wadena County, Willie said.

"About 67 percent of our folks in treatment are alcohol abusers," he said.

This number is significantly higher than the state, which rates at about 55 percent for alcohol abuse, he said.

Wadena County is much lower than the state when it comes to methamphetamine and crack cocaine use, Willie said.

"Ours have dropped significantly in that area," he said.

The county is at 1.1 percent for both meth and crack cocaine use, he said.

"Which is probably one person given our numbers," Willie said about each of those categories.

The only other area where the county is above state numbers is for prescription drug abuse, he said.

"The studies are showing that that has really been moving into rural areas where ... street drug use is not as available or is more expensive," he said.

Prescription drug abuse is something the county needs to be aware of because it could be rising, Willie said.

The county's rate of marijuana abuse is similar to the state's. Wadena County is at 18.4 percent and the state is at 17.4 percent, Willie said.

Never-married, unemployed, white male, age 18-24 are common characteristics of a person entering chemical dependency treatment in the county, according to numbers from the report.

The 18-24 age category is younger than the state's largest age group, Willie said. In Wadena County 27 percent of people in treatment are ages 18-24, 23 percent are ages 25-34, 23 percent are ages 35-44 and 21 percent are ages 45-54. The state's largest age category for people in treatment is ages 25-34, he said.

"So we're a touch younger than that," Willie said. "Our folks are single, never married on average."

They also live alone and are typically not veterans, he said.

"We only had a few veterans in treatment over the last year," Willie said.

There could be a couple of reasons for this, he said. The community has an active veterans administration that helps people out and veterans services can provide treatment through a VA hospital.

A typical person in treatment is under court jurisdiction, has a probation officer and has a court order stating the need to complete a Rule 25 assessment and follow the recommendations, he said.

Willie gave employment statistics for people entering and exiting treatment.

Upon entry 33 percent are employed with 21 percent employed full-time and 11 percent part-time, he said. Forty-seven percent are unemployed and are either looking for work or not looking for work. The remainder include disabled and students.

The discharge statistics for people exiting treatment are a little different. Thirty-nine percent are unemployed and 30 percent are employed. The number of unemployed went down and the number of employed stayed pretty much the same, Willie said. An area that increased was the number of disabled.

"Some folks are going into treatment and working out their social security, developing that, and becoming eligible for benefits," he said.

Neighborhood Counseling Center in Wadena provides the vast majority of outpatient treatment, Willie said. People need to be able to walk or drive to outpatient treatment.

Those in in-patient treatment are more spread out around the state, he said, because the county is looking for the facility that best meets the individual's needs. Wadena County residents are in treatment in places such as Granite Falls, Minn., and Carlton, Minn.

Wadena County had a total of 87 admissions into treatment facilities in 2008.