County drug consumption on the rise

All roads seemed to lead to drugs as county department heads delivered updates on their departments at the regular Plumas County Board of Supervisor’s meeting Feb. 13. From drug use consumption increase, to child abuse because of drugs, the county drug problem remains rampant.

Drugs and Needles

The first to give an update was District Attorney David Hollister who hit the board with the statistic that heroin and meth crimes are up 22 percent in the 2017-2018 year.

‘We are absolutely feeling that pressure in the court,” said Hollister. “I know the jail is feeling pressure, and law enforcement, but what has jumped out at me is I think we are starting to see it in the hospitals and the schools.”

Hollister also said that when drug crimes go up, so do property crimes.

“I think we are starting to see that pretty frequently,” he said.

He said there is also an increase in intravenous use of the drugs.

“There is a real health issue that we are going to have to deal with because when I.V. use becomes [this] prevalent, and we aren’t a county that has access to safe needles, there will be a health issue that will come up pretty quickly,” he continued.

Interim Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff echoed Hollister’s concerns during his update to the board. He said the use of contaminated needles can spread disease rapidly. He also said along with the syringe disposal system, the Public Health Department is installing new access systems for people to purchase clean needles.

“In one way you hate to supply the [needles] to the people, but the public health impact of HIV or hepatitis is so huge,” said District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall.

Woodruff also updated the board on the progress of Public Health’s strategic plan, which includes further progress on the opioid crisis in the county.

Social Services

Director Elliot Smart of Social Services presented the quarterly report on social services trends. Smart reported that assistance applications numbers are down for the year.

“That tells me that people who might have been negatively affected by economic conditions are getting back to work, and we are getting employment opportunities back into the county,” said Smart.

Smart also said that child services investigations are up due to drug use. Smart estimated that drugs were involved in 98 percent of cases of child abuse and neglect in the county. As result, there is an increase of children in the child welfare system in the county.

There is also an increase in adult protective services cases. Smart attributed the increase to public awareness and informants who alert social services of abuse of the elderly or disabled.