When does it stop being a party and start becoming a problem? Is there a way to steer clear of addiction? Every Wednesday, Mike McGowan, host of the podcast "Avoiding the Addiction Affliction," explores substance use disorders with expert guests. The podcast series is sponsored by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition.
Original cover art created by
Kelly P. of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Detective Mike Osmond
Investigator with the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office
It doesn’t matter where you live, drugs are available. Detective Mike Osmond, an Investigator with the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office, discusses the prevalence and increase in street drug usage, overdose deaths, and fentanyl. It’s the partnership of law enforcement, education, and treatment that Detective Osmond believes makes a difference in communities. The Wisconsin Alliance for Drug Endangered Children can be reached at http://www.wisconsindec.org/home.html. Detective Osmond can be reached through the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office.
[00:00:00] [Jaunty Music]
[00:00:12] Mike McGowan: Welcome everyone to Avoiding the Addiction Affliction, a series brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. You know, we've talked a lot lately here about the ongoing opioid and street drug epidemic in our country. Well, we wanted to continue that discussion today with a frontline viewpoint.
[00:00:31] I am pleased to have our guest, detective Mike Osmond, an investigator with the Buffalo County Sheriff's office. Welcome Mike.
[00:00:39] Mike Osmond: Hi there. Uh, thanks for having me. I appreciate the, uh, the invite.
[00:00:42] Mike McGowan: Well, I'm glad you're here. You know, Mike, I, every time I bump into a police officer in my travels, wherever I go, I always start the conversation in the same way.
[00:00:52] So I'll start it with you the same way. What drugs are you seeing right now?
[00:00:57] Mike Osmond: We're, we're certainly seeing an uptick in, in methamphetamine usage. Um, uh, that's been around for quite a while and continues to be a strong presence in, uh, in Western Wisconsin here. Uh, but recently, uh, I would say over the last, you know, two, three years, uh, in our area, uh, fentanyl has certainly, uh, been on the increase.
[00:01:19] Um, And we're seeing that, um, you know, more and more, uh, especially within probably the last two to three months, we've really seen an increase, uh, of, of fentanyl and, uh, and a couple of fentanyl overdoses.
[00:01:32] Mike McGowan: Well, and I think you're one of the people that told me this, it's in everything. Right?
[00:01:39] Mike Osmond: Right. It seems to be, uh, that, that, uh, it's getting mixed in with, uh, methamphetamine for sure. Uh, quite a bit. Um, and it's always has been mixed with heroin or, or been taking the place of, of heroin. Many of the heroin users are seeking out fentanyl now, uh, just because of its potency. Uh, you know, gets your best bang for the buck, if you wanna put it that way.
[00:02:02] Mike McGowan: And cheaper?
[00:02:05] Mike Osmond: Um, no, I don't know if it's cheaper. I just think that, uh, you're better, you know, it's it get gets, uh, there's certainly more effects. And so, uh, so people, you know, when they're, when they've been using heroin for quite some time and they, you know, wanna to go to the next level, uh, then they're seeking out fentanyl or unfortunately a lot of the heroin supply might be running low and people are, uh, mixing that with fentanyl. Um, and then what it comes down to then is somebody who thinks they're buying heroin or thinks they're buying oxycodone. Um, and it actually ends up buying fentanyl.
[00:02:45] Mike McGowan: What does it do when you mix it with meth?
[00:02:49] Mike Osmond: Um, well, uh, the effects are, you know, there's, there's no real study, you know?
[00:02:53] And, and so that's kind of the, uh, that's kind of the issue is that, you know, in talking to different people that are using both or, or mixing, and a lot of times they don't know. Um, and that's, that's where comes under our, our, um, you know, where things get tricky is because they think that they're getting one substance and then they're actually using, you know, another, um, and, and people that are struggling with substance misuse there, they, uh, you know, they're, they're, they're a lot of them are willing to try different things. And, and so that's one of the, uh, one of the things that we have a difficult time with is trying to keep people, uh, You know, to, to reign that in and, and not stick with one thing, we, we would prefer them to not use anything.
[00:03:38] Uh, but when, when you're trying different substances, you don't know what your body's gonna, you know, how it's gonna react to, to the substance if you're not used to it.
[00:03:49] Mike McGowan: And we're seeing a, a rise in overdose deaths all across country and in our state. Are you in Buffalo County as well?
[00:03:57] Mike Osmond: Yeah. Um, over the last. Actually, I mean, we've had, we've had a number of, uh, of overdoses that have been polydrug overdoses where it's been meth and, uh, fentanyl or meth and heroin, or, um, you know, meth, marijuana, fentanyl. Um, and so those are the, that makes it particularly difficult for the investigation because when somebody has a number of different sources for marijuana, for fentanyl and for meth, you're not really sure who the source of the drug was. So the criminal investigation of it, uh, becomes, you know, can be difficult then. And then you certainly wonder, were they just trying to buy meth and ended up having fentanyl in the meth or, you know, how did that go? And so that's a, that that becomes to be a, uh, problematic during the investigation. But our number of overdoses is certainly on the rise.
[00:04:52] Mike McGowan: I've heard that a lot of the deals are made on social media.
[00:04:56] Mike Osmond: Uh, that is happening. Yep. I mean, social media is certainly, uh, I would say probably the most popular way to, uh, to get it, uh, the traditional, you know, call somebody on the phone or send 'em a text message is, is, uh, I would say second to, uh, social media sources.
[00:05:15] Mike McGowan: So, so what you're now as an officer having to become, uh, conversant in TikTok and Snapchat?
[00:05:21] Mike Osmond: Right. Well, a lot of our time is spent, uh, doing that, uh, not communicating per se, but, um, accessing the records for all those, uh, which is really time consuming for the drug investigation.
[00:05:36] Mike McGowan: Yeah. You know, just curiously, but, you know, I'm, I'm pretty curious about do the social media companies cooperate with law enforcement when it comes to investigation?
[00:05:46] Mike Osmond: Majority, uh, do, yeah, we, uh, we have fairly good luck. Uh, the only issue that we have is that with the number of investigations that are over social media, um, the time that it takes to get the records back can take quite a bit.
[00:06:01] Mike McGowan: Yeah.
[00:06:01] Mike Osmond: And so really, you know, you'd like to have access to 'em right away. So that way you can get the information while it's hot, you know, if you want to call it that. But, but unfortunately you end up getting the information, you know, like a month from, from after the, uh, you know, you've started it or sent in the, the warrants for it.
[00:06:17] Mike McGowan: You know, I heard you talk about a month ago and you said you gave a statistic and I I'm, I'm not gonna remember what it is. That's why I'm asking you. But you asked the high school kids that you, you really didn't wanna run into them because you were making X amount of. You were having to do with methamphetamine X amount of times per week or, or whatever. I, I was stunned that its so often.
[00:06:40] Mike Osmond: Uh, so probably, uh, my job is, uh, I'm the only detective in, in Buffalo County, cause we're a smaller county. Um, but I would say that 80% of my time, is spent with either direct drug enforcement or results of drug, uh, misuse. And, and when I say results of, you know, when somebody has a, you know, a $100, $150 a day habit, um, they, they have to go to property crimes.
[00:07:09] It's usually crimes, property crimes, uh, is, is the most common. And that includes, you know, fraud, theft um, you know, your, your various, uh, uh, ways to get money illegally. And, and so when I say that 80%, that's, that's usually what it is, is because it's either the drug enforcement itself or the results of, uh, the drug misuse.
[00:07:34] Mike McGowan: Wow. And when somebody gets arrested, their file, uh, becomes part of the public record.
[00:07:42] Mike Osmond: Right. I mean, you can go, uh, you can search anybody on Wisconsin CCAP and find any of their court records. And that, and that's one of the things when I talk to the younger adults is that, uh, that it's important to keep that in mind when you have your dream job come up and that you, you know, you're in between it, you know, it's, it's you. And then, you know, your, your friend, if you wanna put it that way, um, Your friend has a clean record and you have a possession charge on your record. You might, might be both equally qualified to do that job, but your employer is certainly gonna look at the person who doesn't have a criminal record and probably elect to, uh, to hire them as opposed to you who, who may have a criminal record.
[00:08:24] Mike McGowan: Well, and then you know, the high school kids, you even were able to show them arrest photos of individuals they may even know.
[00:08:32] Mike Osmond: Correct. So the, you know, all of our booking photos are open to the public. They're all public record. And so what I'll do is I'll show the high school kids before and after photo of somebody who's, who's, uh, been, um, You know, struggling with substance abuse, either, you know, meth or heroin or fentanyl or whatever it might be.
[00:08:51] And we look at the physical changes in the face, the structural changes in the face, the skin, um, changes, you know, different, different aspects of the face itself. And we learn from those changes. Um, you know, and, and hopefully, you know, you don't wanna just showcase pictures, but, but I think it's important for people to know. What to look for in the face and the structural changes in the face. Um, so that way they can make educated decisions on people they, they may or may want hang around with. And, and when I'm talking to youth, uh, especially with somebody when they're out in the, the field of dating, um, because when they're in high school, they tend to stick with their high school crowd and, you know, people that they know, but when they, you know, are, are moving around the country and they're traveling and they're, you know, Mixing and mingling with different, uh, populations of people. I think it's important for people to have an educated, uh, decision on who they're hanging out with and, and maybe who they're dating.
[00:09:51] Mike McGowan: Well. And those changes to the physical appearance are, are stunning sometimes aren't they?
[00:09:57] Mike Osmond: Right? Um, yeah. I mean, some can be, um, some can be like really drastic. Some can be subtle. Um, But they're almost always the same though. And that's why, when we look at the structural changes in the face, they're, they're pretty consistent all about the same.
[00:10:14] Mike McGowan: Like what, what do you see.
[00:10:15] Mike Osmond: Uh, I see eyes, I see the eyes will, uh, be sunken in. And I think that's the physical structure around the eye socket itself.
[00:10:24] You see the, uh, cheeks, um, will reduce and, and, and be in, uh, you'll see, structural changes in the neck. and then all, then the overall skin complexion you'll see breaking out or, or open sores. And that's of course the most obvious, but the rest of it is, is what I believe to be caused by, uh, lack of sleep, poor nutrition.
[00:10:46] Um, and just, you know, your, their day to day lives revolve around getting, uh, the drugs. What it, what it doesn't revolve around is good exercise, good sleep and good nutrition. None of what occurring, um, when somebody is actively, uh, misusing drugs.
[00:11:03] Whatever drug it is. If it's, you know, being misused at a, at a, um, where they're, you know, have a, a daily, um, addiction that's, you know, that's where you see those, those changes are, are most significant.
[00:11:18] Mike McGowan: I, I just talked to a guy, a gentleman who's lost his brother to an overdose and he was found, uh, I should even ask you to guess this, but I won't, he was found in his car. Across the street from police station that that's not unfamiliar either. Right. Just get it, use it right there.
[00:11:41] Mike Osmond: Yeah. So, um, what, what the typical user will do is, and, and I, and I, when I talk to parents about this, I, I describe it as taking your kids to McDonald's. When you take your kids to McDonald's and let's say, you're your minutes from your house. You don't, you don't have your kids. No, no. Parent out there gets a happy meal and then tells their kids that they can't eat the happy meal until they get home. That doesn't happen. And, and, and if you think that does happen well, then look at your, you know, somebody who has a five year old look at the backseat, and if you don't see a McDonald's fry back there, then they're either really good cleaners or they're, they're screwing up my story.
[00:12:20] But getting back to that, um, it's just like a drug user. As soon as they make the purchase, they wanna get high. And so oftentimes what you'll see is you'll see, they're either getting high before they leave the drug house, or, uh, they're finding the closest gas station, parking lot, whatever it might be to where that's at and then they, and then they're gonna stop and they're gonna get high.
[00:12:42] And, and obviously that poses a number of risks to the community because, um, one, uh, you know, you have impaired drivers that are out driving around, but two, you know, I mean . I'd be concerned if, if somebody was getting high in a park and all of a sudden your children are there and now somebody who maybe thought they were buying meth, but got, uh, but got heroin now is overdosing or vice versa.
[00:13:06] Um, and they're having a bad reaction to the drugs. I mean, they're people that are using methamphetamine can get violent. Uh, and so, so there's. There's not, it's not just the fact that people have drugs in their pocket and that makes 'em dangerous or that's that makes it a community wide problem. It's all the effects of either getting the drugs or what happens to the person after they consume the drugs that, that we need to be worried about. As a, as a community.
[00:13:37] Mike McGowan: I've heard you talk to the, to the young adults as you called them. What, when you talk to them, what message do you hope they take away?
[00:13:46] Mike Osmond: You know, I just hope that, um, and when I say young adults, I, you know, I do a lot of, I like talking to high school kids cuz I think I can connect to them a little bit better.
[00:13:56] Um, but I also treat them as, like I said, young adults. I mean, as soon as you put a key in the ignition, in my mind, you're, you're making adult decision so 16 and up when as soon as they start driving, they're making adult decisions. So that being said, I really think that we. Um, we need to educate the youth on, you know, the cause and effect of, of each of the drugs.
[00:14:21] Um, which I think all of them are pretty educated in that now to know like, Hey, we shouldn't use meth or we shouldn't use heroin, but what I think maybe, or at least what I try to do is educate them how, what the situations are, what the scenarios are of how that, how you get into that position.
[00:14:39] When I go to a, to a bar or I go to a park or I go to a restaurant or wherever, I don't have people coming up to me and saying, Hey, do you want some methamphetamine? Like that just doesn't happen. Right? The general public doesn't happen. But where, where the introduction, especially with females is, is through dating and through partners.
[00:14:59] And that's where most of the people, especially females, start using is with a partner. You know, and, and traditionally what ends up happening is, um, they socially will smoke marijuana. And then all of a sudden they meet, you know, a new partner and now of a sudden the new partner is using meth and they introduce, you know, introduce that to their partner.
[00:15:24] And that's, that's traditionally how things get started, especially on the female end of it. Um, and males are just a, you know, a social partner, a friend or something that, that introduces it. Um, I really find that a lot of the connections, as far as, uh, meth and fentanyl users or meth and heroin users is through marijuana.
[00:15:49] That seems to be, uh, uh, a path. I will not sit on here, or I won't tell anybody that everybody who uses marijuana is likely to use meth or heroin or fentanyl. I, I wouldn't agree on that, but what I can tell you is that the, the vast majority of the people that I've spoke to that use meth or use heroin or fentanyl started smoking marijuana.
[00:16:13] Um, and then, and then, and there's, there is several studies out there that put a correlation into the legalization of marijuana and to, uh, to overdose deaths. Um, that's, that's certainly out there and it's one Google search away and you you'll find plenty of information on that.
[00:16:29] Mike McGowan: You know, people, when you, when I talk to the public, I think people, you, you just said it, think that they know everything there is to know, right? Yet, you know, when I talk, sometimes they don't even know how long it takes for alcohol to hit the brain once you swallow it, you know? So what, what do you hope people in general know about what do they need to know about the street drugs?
[00:16:50] Mike Osmond: Um, well I think general public, um, you know, I don't know if they need to know, like, Hey, you know, this is. This is why people smoke meth, or this is why people inject meth, or this is why people do know that. I think it's more so on the fact of, like, I think as a general society, we really need to know we need to support, um, the different, um, different treatment options that are out there. But I also think that we also need to keep in mind, um, That, that if we, if we truly wanna stop the drug epidemic and at least the direction that it's going now, which is the upward trend of, of either usage or overdose, I think as far as to cap that or turn that around.
[00:17:36] Again, we need to support our treatment options. Um, but I also think that we need to continue, um, you know, trying to keep the people employed. I think we need to try to keep 'em with their driver's license. You know, there's a, there's a lot of different options that I think the society wise that we can support.
[00:17:57] And a lot of that comes through our, our treatment services. It really does. And, and I I'll, I'll be honest with you a few years ago. I was not a real treatment supporter. Uh, but now I am, I'm definitely trending in that direction as far as we need to get more people into more treatment options that are, that are out there.
[00:18:15] So I would say that is, you know, when, when I want people to know. What's out there. What's the most important message for people is I would say continue in the treatment. Um, avenues continue to support, um, sober services. If, if that all makes sense, I kind of know round and round there on you. But, um, but that's a, that's an important part I think.
[00:18:39] Mike McGowan: Yeah, that does make sense, you know, and you, you, it's not a victimless crime either. Um, you've worked with, uh, the Wisconsin Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, that, that program, right?
[00:18:50] Mike Osmond: Correct.
[00:18:51] Mike McGowan: Tell us a little bit about that and your work there.
[00:18:53] Mike Osmond: So, so what that focuses on is that, um, when, when you have, uh, people that are, are misusing, uh, drugs, or, or that have a drug addiction. Um, you know, a lot of their life choices, certainly aren't, aren't the best and they're, and they're not focused on, or, or there is different impacts that are, that are, are made on children. Both health wise. I mean, clearly we know that a one year old child shouldn't have meth in their system and, and the health effects from that are, are, can be, you know, quite wide ranging, but, uh, but can be significant, but also what the user, um, or somebody who's under the influence.
[00:19:37] As a parent or caregiver, um, can, can impact a number of things. Uh, there's an, there's an ACEs study out there if again, another Google search, but ACEs, it's A C E S I believe. Uh, and I may spell that wrong. Uh, but I know that the concept of it and it's adverse childhood experiences and, and what that is is it's a number of different impacts to the child and, and how that's gonna affect their, their, uh, the rest of their life, basically.
[00:20:11] And so at the higher, the ACEs score, the higher, there are chances of the child being, uh, you know, a drug addict or a misuser in the future. And so, you know, when you look at the drug endangered children. Not only are you seeing high ACEs scores, but you're also seeing the immediate danger to the child.
[00:20:33] Um, for example, mom leaves because the child is, and this is a true story. Mom leaves. Um, And she thinks the child's gonna be asleep. So she goes to re-up or to, to go buy more drugs. So she's gone and the child wakes up and walks next door. Unfortunately, the next door neighbor is a child sex offender. The good thing is the child sex offender knows, I can't have a child at my house. So he calls 9 1 1 here and says, Hey, there's a kid in my house, I'm a registered sex offender, I can't have the kid here, but it just showed up in my house. Pretty sure it's a neighbor's kid. Can somebody come down? So then through the investigation, we realized that the mom went to buy more drugs and the kid wandered to the child sex offender.
[00:21:21] So it's not just the fact that that child had meth in their system. It's the fact that the child went next door to the neighbors who was a child sex offender. Uh, we've seen a number I've talked to a number of, of people that when they were growing up, mom and dad or caregiver had, uh, different other, uh, substance abuse, um, users coming through the house.
[00:21:49] They were, um, sexually assaulted. They were sexually molested by different people that were there. Um, I mean, there's, there's a whole slew of stories about sex offending, uh, and, and, um, and kids that were impacted by that because their mom or dad or caregiver were, were using drugs. So, I mean, you, there's just a whole, there's a whole wide range of. Of issues that come about that. But you know, if we don't allow somebody to drive a car impaired under the influence of various drugs, do we think that that person should be, um, or that would be, um, our a hundred percent best parent, you know, and, and those choices that they make while driving aren't exactly, you know, the best for parenting, but I will tell you.
[00:22:37] On the, on the good note of this is that once we do have contact with a lot of these families, a lot of the people realize when somebody comes to their house and says, Hey, your child, um, tested positive for meth. A lot of them, a light goes on and says, Hey, you know what? I'm glad you came. This isn't what I wanted for my kid. And I'm gonna do the best I can get sober and do the best I can for my, for my kids. And, and the program is not designed to say, Hey, these people are bad people and they're bad parents. The program is designed for an intervention and to redirect these people, to get sober, to put their kids at number one, Um, and then, and then, you know, lead good positive lives.
[00:23:22] And, and, and we recognize that we just wanna make sure that the kids are, are first and foremost. Um, and, and, and then make sure that that immediate impact to the children is, is taken care of right away. And then on the backside provide, um, you know, services to the, to the parent or caregiver, you know, to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
[00:23:44] And so, so it's, it's really a, it's a great program. Um, and it, and it really looks out for the, uh, you know, for the wellbeing of the children, as well as, uh, mom, dad, or caregiver.
[00:23:55] Mike McGowan: You know, and I, I know Mike, you would agree with me after all this time of my doing this and yours. We never know when that moment is gonna come, that the adult says, whoa, I gotta make a change. We don't know. Um, and it's always a, a, a wonderful miracle when it does happen.
[00:24:13] Mike Osmond: Well, and that's the key thing is I think people need to, uh, you know, they, they need to keep in mind that at a moment's notice that person really could change, you know their choices. Um, we need to continue to support the people as best we can by providing whatever services are needed, but then realize that relapse is really part of it's part of the addiction.
[00:24:36] And that's part of the, the process, but, um, you know, continuing positive and, and sober options for these folks is really, uh, you know, is really probably our, our best way to at least, you know, curb or, or cap the trend that we're going in.
[00:24:52] Mike McGowan: Wonderful. That's a great place to, to drop it. Mike, thank you so much for taking time out. I know how busy you are and I really appreciate this.
[00:25:01] Mike Osmond: No, I appreciate the invite and um, and I hope that, uh, hopefully we can help with, you know, a few people out there by listening today.
[00:25:09] Mike McGowan: That sounds great. And for the listener, please listen next time. We'll again, talk about more issues that affect children, adults, and all the rest of us until then, stay safe.
[00:25:19] [END AUDIO]
The Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition’s mission is to support networking, encourage education, explore gaps, and realize solutions to improve treatment and reduce alcohol and other drug abuse in our community with a primary focus on families.