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Creating the Minn. Methamphetamine Resource Center

WILLMAR -- After the Legislature approved funding in 2005, the Department of Human Services was "off and running," to develop a methamphetamine resource center, said Doug Seiler, regional administrator for the State Operated Services Division of the Department of Human Services.

"Actually, we were off and crawling," he said with a laugh. "We were really starting from scratch."

An advisory committee, made up of leading chemical dependency professionals in the state, was assembled and spent about five months developing a mission and a plan for the center the Legislature designated for Willmar.

Previously, there had been no accurate information collected about meth treatment, Seiler said, and no easy way to make accurate information available to professionals or the public. The Minnesota Methamphetamine Resource Center will do both, he said.

He said other states have collected resources on meth but the information has been imbedded into different agencies.

Because meth is a spotlight issue in Minnesota, Seiler said the Legislature thought it was important to make this a free-standing center.

Since being hired in March, executive director Maria Weber has been traveling around the state making presentations about meth treatment and letting people know about the center. She's also been hiring well-known experts in the field from around the country to speak at training workshops that will help clinicians learn about treatment models.

The first workshop is tentatively set for Sept. 14 in Willmar. Future workshops will be held in other Minnesota cities in order to make it easier for people throughout the state to obtain the information, said Seiler.

The Web site provides access to numerous articles, books and videos about different meth issues and treatment practices. A library with those resources will also be housed in the Willmar office.

The process of finding the materials and checking them for accuracy before they were placed on the Web site has taken a great deal of time, said Dave E. Brown, communications officer with Chemical and Mental Health Services. The Web site will continue to expand as new information about meth treatment is discovered, Brown said.

Kevin Evenson, director of the statewide chemical dependency treatment program for State Operated Services, said the short-term goal of the center is to provide people with "up-to-date, accountable information" about meth. The long-term goal is to use that information to make positive changes.

State officials were reluctant to talk about the center with the press until the Web site was up and running. Anticipating a flurry of phone calls once word of the center got out, Weber said it was important that the Web site was ready to roll so that there was information available for people to access.

The information includes different treatment models that counselors will find very useful, said Weber, as well as more basic information that parents of children who are addicted to meth will find useful.

The worst thing to do would be to "open up as a resource center and have no resources," said Seiler. "We really believe this is an important venture," he said. "Failing at this would not be good."

Weber said if the meth center can help just one family that's struggling with meth addiction, it will have done its job.

Seiler said he expects the Web site and the center to be used a lot.

The center can be reached at 800-411-8146. The Web site can be accessed at:

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750