BURNETT COUNTY— In the past few months Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) meetings have been held in Danbury at the Tribal Hall on Sundays and Tuesdays at Lakeside Community Lutheran church in Webster.
“Both meetings are open to any and everyone,” said meetings organizer, Shara’lanee’ Staples-Skinaway. “You don’t have to be in the tribe to go to the tribal hall meetings. Last Sunday we had our most at any meeting – 14 people.”
Andrew Bruss of Siren has been sober for over a month and a half after using meth for over eight years. He learned about the CMA meetings through his probation officer and drug court.
Bruss said of the 14 people at that meeting, he knew 12 from when he was using. The shared experience is what keeps him coming back.
“When I was getting sober I did a lot of reading of a lot of different recovery books,” Staples-Skinaway said. “I donated five or six books to the jail and stuffed them with information about the meetings.”
Bruss and Staples-Skinaway both said that narcotics anonymous meetings are helpful, but the CMA meetings are much more direct and talking with people who have gone through the same things with meth are extremely helpful in the recovery process.
Meth in area
Staples-Skinaway’s husband Thomas Skinaway grew up in Burnett County and he said meth is just too common here.
“It’s like alcohol up here, a lot of people do it,” Thomas said.
“It’s boring up here,” Bruss added. “It’s been in the area so long. It’s all (users) know.”
Bruss started using when he was in high school. Shara’lanee’s mother was one of the first people to go through what is now known as drug court in the state.
Skinaway said she has already reached out to 96 people this year. She plans on reaching over 100 by the end of the year.
“Next year we want to double it and reach 200 people in the area,” Skinaway said.
“We also want to be able to facilitate a meeting everyday of the week at different locations in the county, to better reach everyone,” Bruss said.
Bruss is very eager to start running some meetings himself. He knows it will help with his sobriety and recovery and he is already seeing and feeling the positives of getting involved.
“I’ve heard from people all over Wisconsin and Minnesota about helping staying sober,” Bruss said. “I’ve even from a few people in the Dakotas.”
Skinaway has been planning sober activities for the group like going to Timbers Theater for a movie. But they lack funding and expanded their funding is a goal.
“We don’t have a lot of money for sober activities,” Thomas said. “Funding is what we need.”
Skinaway said she doesn’t quite understand why the members don’t have money.
“We all had money for the drugs, so you would think they would also have money to go to the movies now,” Skinaway said.
The group has run into issues with their signs being taken down and ripped apart. Skinaway did not speculate as to who was disturbing the signs, but she did notice that some of the signs just had the word ‘meth’ ripped off of them.
They are also considering moving the Tuesday night meeting from Webster to Siren at New Beginnings with Bruss being in charge.
“I chose to start the CMA meetings, due to being a crystal meth addict myself, and because for years I felt so terrible about myself,” Skinaway said. “But through continued support of family, friends, 3 sponsors, and the love of our creator, I feel strong today.”
For more information call Shara’lanee’ Skinaway at 715-319-1499, or visit crystalmeth.org.