FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Local sheriffs have been battling the growing methamphetamine problem for years.
The cycle of meth addiction is a persistent problem in rural counties, and area sheriffs say they can’t arrest their way out of this issue.
So they’re taking a different approach.
“We know if we can break that cycle, we can stop it,” Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said.
On Thursday, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office launched the S.M.A.R.T. Campaign, which stands for Stopping Methamphetamine Among Our Teens.
“We have a serious meth issue in rural North Florida so the sheriffs, through Sheriff Smith, had a vision that we would do a couple of things, one is to help the families understand when that is occurring with a family member and know how to access treatment and how to get help for that person,” Northwest Florida Health Network CEO Mike Watkins said.
Sheriffs from Calhoun, Jefferson, Taylor, Holmes, Liberty and Washington County are joining Franklin County in this effort.
Watkins said rural communities are four times more likely to have a meth abuse problem.
Their goal is for the SMART program to prevent kids as young as middle school from getting addicted.
They hope education and prevention will lead to building stronger families in their communities.
They will be working with superintendents across the Panhandle to implement the program in their school’s curriculum for next year.
“We’ve gotta hit it on the front end with our youth and try to prevent the use of it. That’s the only way you are going to be successful,” Calhoun County Sheriff Glenn Kimbrel said.
This will be the first program of its kind but they hope the program will branch out across the state of Florida.