Eau Claire (WQOW)- The Wisconsin Department of Justice is launching a new way to fight meth use all across the state.
"When I wake up in the morning, today's my first day being sober. When I go to bed at night, today was the first day I was sober, and it'll be the same thing for me tomorrow," said Joel Fischer.
For Fischer, the sun starts a new day more than ten years in the making.
"I got in to drinking at 12, smoking cigarettes, drugs, marijuana," Fischer said. "My morals, everything down to the core of who I was was changed. I became the person that wanted to be that person. I needed to be the best drug user, the best drug dealer, as I was later on in life. I had to be the best at this."
At 23, almost half his life was spent in and out of jail cells, without a key to a real future.
"There were times when I was just completely beat up about it, like I'm in juvenile prison. To me this is prison, this is the big time. I'm here and I feel like I'm not here for much of a reason, you know, killers go to prison," Fischer said. "There was never a strong emotion that I wasn't feeling,whether it be tears, to anger, to ready to break things, to beg for forgiveness to planning my next move when I get out of juvi."
Fischer is just one of the thousands across the state facing the same struggle. It's the reason behind the kNOw Meth Campaign. The Wisconsin DOJ is giving $50,000 to raise awareness in the form of PSA's, brochures, and eventually a website.
"Once people hear the word about the highly addictive substance methamphetamine and how it is affecting families and their communities, we can be effective in stopping the spread of methamphetamine further," said Attorney General Brad Schimel. "We will not arrest our way out of this, and it is far more than just a public safety problem. It is destroying families, it is creating people that are unable to work and support their families, perhaps the biggest impact is on children,"
Fischer's mother, Tammy Renly, recalls her sons path as 'heartbreaking,' saying at one point, you just have to let him go in order to care for the rest of her family.
"You think that there's this magical cure, that we can get through to him and I can get him back on track, and you just watch him go further away to the point where, you're just waiting for a phone call. You're happy when they're arrested, you're happy when they're locked up because you know at that point they're safe," Renly said.
The campaign breaks down meth impact by county. It then forms the Northwoods Coalition, a partnership between Marshfield Clinic Health System and Alliance for Wisconsin Youth, as well as other local communities groups. On Thursday All stakeholders met to discuss strategies, and feasible solutions that will work specifically for each county.
"We know that the other families are going through it, but where are they? So many people don't come forward, it's like the dirty secret we keep in our house. As the users recover and go in to that, I need somebody that understands what I've been through. The families need that, too. And if these groups don't come together and people start speaking out more, nobody's going to have that support," Renly said.
Even after two years of sobriety, it's a battle Fischer fights every day.
"Doing it is giving me that first day sense of empowerment. This is the day that I'm going to start being sober, and I can at least make it through the first day, that's not a problem," Fischer said. "I was planning, I was having just these good thoughts, these hopeful thoughts. Thoughts that before I would have just cast out of my brain because I would have been like, oh that's bogus I'm not going to have fantasies. These things are true now."
Thursday's summit was just the start of the kNOw Meth campaign. The Northwoods Coalition website has more information.