The word ‘art’ is an old English word meaning skill, craft, craftsmanship. A broad definition, and one that Rhinelander’s ArtStart staff and volunteers are embracing. Book discussions are on the event calendar along with photography exhibits, dance, music and film. Next weekend, the book discussion takes a more serious turn, with Meth Talk.
ArtStart volunteer Jane Banning said the idea was initially hers. “When I heard about the methamphetamine bust a few months ago, I thought maybe it was time to bring the subject of addictions to the community.”
Banning has a master’s degree in social work, has worked in healthcare but has always had a special interest in mental health and addictions. She mentioned the idea to ArtStart President Ken Juon and he agreed there is a need to talk about and understand the impact of methamphetamine on the Northwoods.
“I think it’s good to dispel the myths and clear up the misunderstandings of addictions,” Banning continued. “So we found a book that the community can read and discuss, a film to watch, and a panel of experts to learn from.”
Kyle Parish, a drug task force investigator with the Rhinelander police department is one of the panelists. One reason methamphetamine is important to the community is because it is very easy to manufacture. In recent years, law enforcement in Oneida County have seen a steady increase in the number of meth users and manufacturers.
“Most people who start consuming methamphetamine start out abusing amphetamine type prescription medication, such as Adderal,” according to Parish. “When the medication becomes too expensive or no longer available people turn to methamphetamine.”
Parish said what people may not know is that Northcentral Drug Enforcement Group, or NORDEG can work to get addicts help, before they have the users are arrested or in their sites.
One misunderstanding, according to the Director of Options Counseling, Kari Decorah is that only people living in poverty experience addiction.
“Another common misunderstanding is how much damage methamphetamine can do to the brain and how much time is needed to recover from the use of meth,” Decorah said. “People can and do recover but we now know the brain is greatly impacted from addiction and needs more than a few weeks to recover.
“This is a great opportunity for people to learn more information about methamphetamine and addiction. The more people know, the more they can have open dialogue with family members, children and friends.”
For her part, Banning said she views Meth Talk as another opportunity to keep the community engaged. “ArtStart is not just about visual art. The written word is also art, as well films, ideas and discussions.”