County drug task force preparing multistage attack on opioid crisis
Masterson - Freeman Staff
April 16, 2015
Nearly eight months after it first convened, Waukesha County’s
Heroin & Other Illicit Drug Task Force is beginning to zero in
on a multistage plan of attack on the heroin and opioid crisis
that has plagued the area, region and state.
The task force — encompassing dozens of representatives from
local and county government, health care, law enforcement and
other community resources — uses a five-pillar approach to try
and break down the drug epidemic into more manageable segments.
The group met on Tuesday to hear from each pillar — prevention,
harm reduction, law enforcement, treatment and workplace — and
learn what goals have been identified, how they can be
accomplished and what challenges lie ahead.
“Everyone is very excited about where we are going, even though
we know we have a ways to go,” Waukesha County Health & Human
Services Director Antwayne Robertson said. “We still have the
community and all the various systems very invested and
continuing this effort.”
The task force is also adding a sixth pillar, focusing on
drug-affected infants and giving pregnant mothers the resources
and help they need to keep babies from entering the world as
‘We are in the deep end of the pool’
Each of the pillar groups has conducted preliminary background
analysis to identify the next steps to take. For the prevention
pillar, this includes universal education on drugs — the group’s
tagline is “It doesn’t start with heroin” — and marketing toward
parents and children about how addicts typically build toward
heroin through marijuana, alcohol or prescription pills.
The law enforcement pillar plans to increase drug and alcohol
impairment training as well as giving officers naloxone, an
opioid antagonist used to reverse heroin overdoses, and making
sure they know how to use it.
“In some cases (law enforcement) are going to be the first
responder,” said Dorothy Chaney, president of the Wisconsin
Community Health Alliance, “and they want to make sure that
their staff is equipped with the drugs but also the knowledge of
how to administer them.”
Chaney’s group is based in Marshfield, but she conducts work
across the state and has been brought in by the Waukesha task
force to ensure its work will have a tangible impact on the
To do this, she has challenged each of the pillar groups to
identify baseline data — such as the number of times naloxone is
administered across the county — that can be used to track
Chaney said once each pillar group has the appropriate data, she
will compile it all to “tell the story of Waukesha County” in
the form of a preliminary analysis that can be used to look back
on and gauge success.
She said the most impressive aspect of Tuesday’s meeting was the
attendees’ dedication to cooperation.
“That is a really strong statement that they are all working
together and we are all sort of working together in our own
areas of expertise,” Chaney said. “The groups have really
identified some very important strategies that are going to have
some pretty immediate impact in Waukesha County on this issue.”
Those strategies include increases in needle exchanges and
educating users about the state’s Good Samaritan 911 law, which
allows them to avoid arrest if they call 911 to report an
For the population-level addiction problems, Chaney said it may
be five or more years before major changes are seen, but with
the steps currently being taken, smaller victories can be found.
“We are in the deep end of the pool,” Chaney said. “These
problems do not go away overnight and it is critically important
that we have baseline data, so that we are not just working
hard, but that we are actually working to do things that are
going to have an impact.”
Optometrists don’t see eye-to-eye on prescribing hydrocodone By ALEX ZANK
- Daily News
March 23, 2015
Dr. Jerry Olson of West Bend
Optical pulls up photographs of the back of his eyes on a
fundus camera. Olson said he has only thought about
prescribing medication containing opioids once and ended up
prescribing a different medication.
Alex Zank/Daily News
that would re-grant prescriptive authority to Wisconsin
optometrists for therapeutic medications containing opioids is
under consideration in the state Senate. One of the bill’s
cosponsors is state Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum).
In August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reclassified
hydrocodone, a semisynthetic opioid, as a schedule II drug. In
Wisconsin, optometrists are allowed to administer schedule III,
IV and V drugs, according to the bill.
Dr. Eric Paulsen, a practicing optometrist in Sturgeon Bay and
president of the Wisconsin Optometric Association, said
optometrists had been using hydrocodone for 25 years before the
DEA rescheduling of the drug.
“We’re just trying to reestablish our ability to use something
we’ve used a long time,” Paulsen said. “We’re not expanding our
scope (with this legislation).”
Paulsen said optometrists need the authority
to prescribe the drug, particularly in cases where patients have
corneal injuries. He said the cornea, a transparent tissue
covering the front of the eye, has more nerve endings than just
about anywhere else in the body.
Dr. Jerry Olson, an optometrist at West Bend
Optical, said in his 35 years of practice, he only came across
one instance where he had considered prescribing a narcotic like
hydrocodone. He ended up prescribing something else.
“My feeling is if you do have something
lesser, use that (instead),” Olson said.
In a news release from the DEA announcing
the rescheduling of hydrocodone, the agency said hydrocodone
combination products were shown to have a high potential for
Drugs that fall into the schedule II
category have the highest potential for harm and abuse,
according to the DEA release.
Kremer and state Sen.
Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), one of the bill’s authors, did not
return calls for comment by deadline.
Drug search my
school, kids say By Denise
Seyver - News Graphic Staff
March 19, 2015
Muskego High School Associate Principal John LaFleur
talks about drug search policies enacted in his school
against the backdrop of photos of former students who died
from drug overdoses.
Photo by Denise Seyfer
WASHINGTON — Young people may not be dying while they are in
high school, but many are dying soon after. Those were the words
of Muskego High School Associate Principal John LaFleur during a
legal update last Thursday, sponsored by the Ozaukee County
Heroin Task Force.
More changes need to happen, LaFleur said.
School leaders, government officials, law enforcement and public
safety personnel from around the county attended the event. They
also heard presentations from individuals who have committed
themselves to working the front lines of Ozaukee County’s opiate
and heroin addiction problem, including county Circuit Judge
Paul Malloy, District Attorney Adam Gerol, Ozaukee County
Sheriff James Johnson and Marian Ballos of Ozaukee County Child
Keeping key stakeholders informed and ahead
of recent drug-use statistics was the goal of the gathering, as
well as advocating why drug policy changes need to be evaluated,
enforced and possibly altered.
“Kids indicated drug searches need to happen
inside the schools,” said LaFleur, whose school has a policy to
search belongings in classrooms. “Our kids can’t learn when they
He said drugs move from parking lots to
lockers to classrooms.
“The talk was (some) student athletes were
abusing pain killers before games, before going out to play
football,” he said.
Task force members asked school officials to
evaluate their policies to see what else can be done to prevent
drugs from making its way onto school campuses.
Currently in southern Ozaukee County
schools, police search the parking lots, hallways and lockers.
Conducting random, canine drug searches
outside and inside the school buildings, including in classrooms
is just one of the proposals being advocated. In fact, some
schools in other counties have instituted random drug testing of
those students involved in school athletics and other groups or
These types of searches are legal, Gerol
said, as long as the school has adopted a specific policy.
“A school board’s goal is to ensure that the
environment where the students are learning is a safe and
healthy one,” said Shea Halula, executive director of Starting
Point of Ozaukee, which is a task force sponsor. “There are many
different ways to ensure this. One piece of the puzzle is
searches; it is not a stand-alone activity. Other prevention and
intervention activities need to be done to support the end
When asked his opinion on random drug
testing, Cedarburg High School Principal Jeff Nelson said the
schools have not had “formal conversations about implementing
random drug testing for extracurricular participants. If our
school community were interested in adding this, we would have a
process that we would follow that would include school board and
parent input before moving forward,” he said.
Nelson said that over the past six years,
they have averaged two drug searches a year.
“We don’t have dogs go into classrooms and
search backpacks, as students are not allowed to carry backpacks
Grafton Superintendent Mel Lightner said K9
searches are happening inside his schools. He said he is also
considering developing a random drug testing plan to present to
the Grafton School Board.
“If one child is deterred from using illegal
drugs from a drug test and has a drug-free life, it’s
successful,” said Lightner, who had an aggressive drug policy at
his former school district in Kimberly.
He considers parking in the school lot a
privilege, as such, when attaining a parking permit he suggested
a condition be an agreement to random drug testing and searches,
in addition to a required agreement when participating in school
co-curriculars and athletics.
Lightner said he wanted to deter students
from using marijuana. He suggested more needs to be done to
curtail boredom and engage students on the weekends by opening
the schools and the gymnasiums.
“I can understand that some parents might be
apprehensive,” Halula said. “However, it goes back to the
student’s well-being, safety and healthy decisions. All three of
these are taken in account when (searches) are done.”
Ozaukee County Sheriff James Johnson said he
believes school searches involving police dogs should be part of
a comprehensive approach to keeping schools drug- free “as is
education, prevention and parental involvement.”
Ozaukee County has shown an increase in drug
crimes and felonies over the past three years, Gerol said. In
2014, the county experienced a record 363 reported felonies and
284 drug-related crimes. The year before, the county reported
254 drug crimes and 303 felonies.
According to the DA, the road to addiction
takes a predictive path, starting with peer pressure and
experimentation. The easy availability of a cheap, highly
addictive substance only adds to the problem with addiction
“We can create a scarcity of the resource,”
Gerol said, “We may not be able to prosecute our way out of this
drug problem. We can and should make it as difficult as possible
for users to acquire and consume drugs.”
Yet, Gerol said he wants to provide help for
those addicted and “give the heroin addict a chance to succeed.”
“The safety of our children, whether at
school, at home or playing, is a priority of all law
enforcement,” Johnson said. “(By) working together with
students, parents, schools and law enforcement, increased safety
can be achieved.”
will face random drug tests next year
School Board passes policy including middle schoolers in program By Eric Oliver -
March 19, 2015
Oconomowoc High School Principal
Joseph Moylan spoke passionately about the random drug
testing policy after watching it fail 12 years ago. The
policy was unanimously approved by the four board members
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff
OCONOMOWOC — An outpouring
of community support urged the Oconomowoc Area School Board to
approve the random drug testing policy at the March 17 board
Fifteen community members spoke to the four board members
present to vote for the policy, two spoke against it. After
public comment, the board voted unanimously to approve the
policy. Three board members were absent and excused from the
Starting next year, the policy calls for randomly testing
students in grades seven to 12 who are in sports and
extracurricular activities. Students signing up to park in the
high school parking lot will also be subject to testing.
A portion of the policy relating to seventh and eighth grade
testing was amended. Originally, when a seventh or eighth grader
is selected, a parent would be notified before to witness the
test with their student. The amendment adds the option for the
parent to designate someone to witness the test if they are
With the policy approved, the district will be the first in the
state to randomly drug test students at the middle school level,
board member Dave Guckenberger said.
Guckenberger — who said at past board meetings he was against
the policy because of the inclusion of seventh and eighth
graders — said he was convinced by public support at the meeting
to change his position.
Oconomowoc High School Principal Joseph
Moylan spoke passionately about the need for the policy. After
watching the first attempt at a drug testing policy fail 12
years ago, Moylan addressed issues he heard brought to the board
regarding the current effort. One claim against the policy was
it would deter participation in activities; Moylan referenced
his testing of students with a breathalyzer at dances and said
900 students were at the last dance.
Moylan also said he shows up to work every
day because he cares about the kids in the community and it took
too long for the policy’s implementation.
“I’m sad to say that tonight I’m asking you
sitting at this table for the second time to do something for
our kids,” Moylan said. “I’m sad to say that I have watched,
went through six funerals last year of kids who died, and I wish
I didn’t have to.”
Board President Don Wiemer talked about the
past failed attempt and said his position as Oconomowoc Lake
Police Chief has made him “sick” of the substance abuse problem
seen in young people in Oconomowoc. He said the policy was the
right thing to do.
“If we would’ve passed
it back then, (are) there any lives we could’ve saved?” Wiemer
said. “We don’t know that. We can’t go back 12 years. We’re here
do some crazy things to make WISCONSIN a HEALTHIER PLACE’
Schimel:Breaking addiction crisis requires outside-the-box
thinking By Matt
Masterson - Freeman Staff
March 9, 2015
The Lybert family — from left,
Tyler, Ashleigh, Sandi and Rick — spoke during
Friday’s “Three Voices of Recovery” luncheon at
Waukesha County Technical College about the toll
addiction took on their family and the path taken to
Matt Masterson/Freeman Staff
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said it is going to take
some “crazy things” to make Wisconsin a healthier place by
breaking free from the heroin and opioid addiction crisis that
has gripped the state.
Speaking at Rosecrance Health Network’s “Three Voices Making a
Difference for Recovery” event at Waukesha County Technical
College on Friday, Schimel said society needs to change the
conversation about addiction and help people realize that being
an addict does not mean he or she has character flaws.
“Because parents with kids who are addicted — or worse, they
have had to bury — are anxious to tell you that their kid isn’t
weak,” he said. “They are very anxious for me to know that their
kid wasn’t weak, their kid wasn’t morally corrupt. Their kid was
a good kid.
“We need to change the conversation so more people recognize
that it is OK to ask for help, it is OK to have this
conversation with your kids.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad
Schimel spoke at Friday’s “Three Voices of Recovery”
luncheon about doing some “crazy things” to make
Wisconsin a healthier place.
Matt Masterson/Freeman Staff
The former Waukesha County district attorney cited data from the
Office of National Drug Control Policy, indicating deaths from
opioids rose by 1 percent from 2012 to 2013 — a total four times
higher that that of a decade ago — and heroin- related overdose
deaths increased by 39 percent.
“What if we saw in the course of a decade the deaths from
traffic accidents quadruple or if we saw from 2012 to 2013 the
deaths from traffic crashes go up by 39 percent?” Schimel said.
“What would we be prepared to do about it as a state, as a
community, a county? We would do crazy things.”
Schimel said Waukesha County is blessed with the treatment and
recovery resources it has, adding that people across the state
are forced to drive through multiple counties to find the level
of treatment available in Waukesha.
Schimel said his office plans to fund another statewide drug
takeback in May, allowing residents to turn in unused or
unwanted prescription medications. He said 68 percent of those
who abuse prescription medications got them from a family member
“We have a lot of work in front of us,” Schimel said. “We have a
lot of people we have to return back to productive members and
healthy members of our society. The ripples of this, if we don’t
do crazy things, are going to go on and on and on.”
Lending a hand
Also speaking during the event were Flo Hilliard, director of
Wisconsin Voices for Recovery, as well as Sandi and Rick Lybert,
a Hartland couple whose son, Tyler, celebrated his sixth
anniversary of beginning recovery Friday.
The Lyberts appeared with Tyler and his sister, Ashleigh, to
talk about the impact addiction had on their family as well as
Your Choice — a drug and alcohol abuse prevention, education and
awareness program for students and parents that they began.
As a teen and into his early 20s, Tyler Lybert was a heroin
addict and an alcoholic. He said he would wake up daily and vow
to quit, but would be back using again by that afternoon.
“I didn’t think surviving was even possible,” he said, “I tried
different treatments, I tried counseling and things like that,
but none of it ever worked. I didn’t see any way out, so I
figured my only way out would be death. I thought if I die,
maybe my family could finally have some peace.”
The addiction led to Tyler getting evicted from his home and, as
the Lyberts put it, “wreaked havoc on (their) marriage, family
Tyler said he eventually faced the choice of entering treatment
or never speaking with his family again. He entered Waukesha
County’s Alcohol Treatment Court, graduated, and remains on the
road to recovery.
“Recovery is possible,” Sandi Lybert said, “and we are here as a
family showing that it is.”
GUEST OPINION Why
I will NEVER let heroin win By Linda Lenz
March 5, 2015
Last month marked two years
since I last saw my son Tony alive.
When he was alive he was magic. Beautiful like a shooting star.
Full of emotion. Public radio kind of intelligent. Artistic.
Funnier than anyone I have ever met. I mean smart funny. He was
strong and brave yet soft and loving — to everyone. Especially
to his brother and to us, his mom and dad.
On Feb. 13, 2013 as I sat having lunch at the mall with a
friend, holding her baby I heard my phone ring. I left work
early and thought, “My stupid boss. I’ll call back later.” But
after the fifth ring I answered. It was my husband, Rick. “It’s
Tony,” he said.
God, I knew.
“What happened? Is he in the hospital? What hospital?” I
pleaded. Rick hesitated. He was on the phone while running
through the mall trying to find me.
“He’s not in the hospital,” Rick said.
“Is he OK?” I screamed.
“No,” Rick answered.
Our lives changed in an instant.
You love and protect your kids when they are alive. You fight
like a tiger to protect their memory when they are gone.
One of the worst things about losing a child to an overdose is
that you feel you must convince people your child was good. I
will tell you how my son died all day long. Heroin! But having
to defend my beautiful son to those who stand in judgment is
Why in the world would my son stick a needle in his arm? Someone
please tell me!
Nearly 95 percent of the people I have spoken with (hundreds of
addicts) first became opiate addicts by using prescription pain
pills. They are opiates. They work the same way on the brain as
heroin. They can make you an opiate addict even if properly
prescribed for pain.
Our older son, Canton, died in 2010 from a rare genetic
disorder, vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Near the end of his
life, he was prescribed a tremendous amount of narcotics to help
him with pain. But even he was treated like an addict near the
end. Funny. You can be dying and you are judged based on this
epidemic. But, the epidemic itself is never addressed!
While our Tony was alive, we had no idea about opiates. I
thought Tony made a bad decision — he chose to shoot heroin. I
was wrong. He took a risk as teens do. He thought a prescription
pill was not all that dangerous. He had his wisdom teeth out and
I let him have the whole prescription (too many pills!) because
I thought it was a lesson in growing up. Well, my son did make
one bad decision, but it was not to shoot heroin. It was
disguised as a prescription. Something safe. Something the other
kids were using in high school.
One problem is that many physicians have not been trained
properly in prescribing these drugs. And even worse, if you tell
your prescribing doctor you think you are addicted to opiates,
he or she may take you off with no help for the addiction. This
turns a soccer mom into a heroin addict. It isn’t just a “Dr.
Phil” segment. It is real and families are being torn apart.
Don’t tell me this is not a disease! Seriously. I will have to
wrestle you to the floor.
At first, I grappled with the notion that a disease can come
from something you choose to ingest, although cigarettes cause
cancer, the wrong foods can cause type II diabetes, etc. We do
things to our bodies that make us sick. I had to understand why
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled this a
disease. How could you choose to take a pill or try a drug and
then say, “I have a disease”? I found this amazing video,
“Heroin at Home,” that explains scientifically what this drug
does to the brain. Please share it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc7TADlpoeY If you
haven’t been touched by this epidemic — bigger than measles, the
flu, Ebola — on this planet, then I am sorry to tell you, you
probably will be. If you hear anything that I am saying in
memory of my Tony, please hear this: Heroin cannot win! That is
how it is. We can’t and I won’t let it win.
We have a power, together. Do not stop telling everyone there is
an epidemic and it starts with pills. If you are in recovery, if
you have an addicted child, spouse or loved one ... do not give
up hope. Not ever.
Because if we give up, even once, heroin wins.
For me, heroin will never win. This is my gift to my son.
I love you, Tony.
— Mom (Linda Lenz lives in Muskego.)
A needle that
can save addicts’ lives AIDS
Resource Center gives out free Narcan and syringes By LINDA
MCALPINE - Daily News
Feb. 24, 2015
Dennis Radloff of the AIDS
Research Center of Wisconsin points to his
presentation while holding a syringe with naloxone
during a training session Saturday at the Democratic
Party of Washington County in West Bend. Naloxone,
known by the brand name Narcan, is used on
individuals that overdose on opiates or heroin.
John Ehlke/Daily News
Krueger of West Bend cringes when her phone rings late at
During her days, her thoughts often stray to funeral plans.
She is the mother of an addict.
On Saturday, however, Krueger and about 20 others learned
how to administer naloxone, better known by the brand name
of Narcan, an antidote used to reverse opiate or heroin
overdoses. Kits containing five doses of naloxone and five
syringes are available for free through the AIDS Resource
Center of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
Krueger said her child’s path to addiction started the way
many do — with an injury and a prescription for a powerful
Krueger said her child “had a whole life ahead of her”
before addiction took over her life.
“People here would like to push it aside and not think there
is a heroin problem in West Bend, but it’s here,” Krueger
said. “There have been so many overdoses. Our young people
are dying. It’s very scary.”
Krueger, who attended the naloxone training session Saturday
afternoon in downtown West Bend, said having an antidote on
hand has given her “some peace of mind.”
“It’s something you hope you never have to use but I’m glad
I have it,” Krueger said.
AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin Prevention Specialist
Dennis Radloff, who conducted the training session, said
naloxone is not physically or psychologically addicting.
According to a handout Radloff provided from the AIDS
Resource Center of Wisconsin, “naloxone has no effects of
its own — using it without having opiates in you is like
injecting water” and “it has no potential for abuse.”
Radloff said the acronym to remember when it comes to what
to do if someone is found unresponsive is “SCARE ME” —
Stimulation, Call for help, Airway, Rescue breathing,
Evaluate, Muscular injection and Evaluate.
“The ‘S’ is for stimulation,” Radloff said. “Can the person
be awakened? If the person has taken a high amount of
opiates or heroin, they’ll be drowsy or nod off. Try to rub
their chest bone with your knuckles to awaken the person.”
Other signs of a possible overdose are a pale complexion or
a bluish-tinged face or lips and slow, raspy breathing with
gurgling or choking sounds.
Radloff said the next step is to call 911, if the person is
Clear the person’s airway, making sure nothing is in their
mouth and then perform rescue breathing, doing two quick
breaths every five seconds. Evaluate the person to see if
they are any better and determine if you can get the
naloxone and prepare it quickly enough so the person will
not have to go without breathing assistance very long.
Next, inject one dose of naloxone into a muscle.
Radloff said emergency responders and law enforcement
officers use a form of naloxone inhaled through the nose.
Due to its high cost, the kits provided for free through the
Naloxone Program of the AIDS Resource Center of
Wisconsin-Prevention Department contain five small vials of
a single dose each and five syringes.
“You can give the injection right through someone’s clothes,
either in their thigh, butt or shoulder,” Radloff said.
“Usually one shot does it but if the person is still
unresponsive another dose can be given. Naloxone wears off
in 30 to 90 minutes.”
Kimberly Roemer, who started a support group in West Bend
that meets the first and third Thursdays of the month for
families of addicts, those who have lost loved ones to
opiate or heroin and addicts in recovery, said more than 40
people attended the first naloxone training session, with
Saturday being the second one.
“Addiction hurts everyone,” Roemer said. “It doesn’t
discriminate. It doesn’t discriminate by color, gender,
religion, sexual orientation or station in life.”
“We’ve seen kids in middle school and people in their 80s
who are addicts,” Roemer said. “The addiction often starts
with prescription opiates.”
Roemer said the opiate abuse situation is so dire that she’s
even heard of “kids having parties after raiding their
parents or grandparents medicine cabinets and trying all the
drugs they’ve found.”
“We need to talk about these things even in elementary
school because we’re seeing children whose parents are
addicts,” she said.
Roemer said she would like to hold naloxone training
sessions once a month.
For more information about the support group or the training
sessions, email Roemer at kimberly
For more information about the free naloxone kits, call the
AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, 3716 W. Wisconsin Ave.,
Milwaukee, at 800-359-9272 or 414-225-1608.
Heroin Education Night 2015
The Heroin Task Force of Ozaukee County hosted a drug
education night at Homestead High School in Mequon where
participants, youth and adults, heard from an array of
speakers how drug addiction, especially to prescription
drugs like opiates and heroin, can ruin lives and kill
those who use and abuse those substances.
deaths remain steady in 2014
Nearly three dozen died in Waukesha County last year due to drugs By Matt Masterson - Freeman
Feb. 20, 2015
WAUKESHA — The total
number of drug-related deaths in Waukesha County dropped slightly
from 2013 to 2014, but deaths related to heroin and other opiates
were nearly mirror images from the previous year.
According to data from the Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s
office, 34 people died either from an accident, suicide or an
undetermined manner relating to drugs last year, based on completed
death certificates. Of those, 10 deaths were heroin-related and 20
involved opiates, either alone or in combination with other
Only three of those 20 opiate- related deaths were caused by opiates
alone, according to the data. Fourteen others were found to be in
combination with some other substance, while the other three deaths
were listed as “opiate unspecified.”
The data also showed three deaths were caused by non-opiate
medications and one was due to an over-the-counter medicine.
“Very frankly, even one death is one too many,” said Joe Muchka,
executive director of the Addiction Resource Council. “We all agree
with (state Attorney General Brad Schimel) that the major issue is
really opiates and prescription drug abuse that leads to heroin
In 2013, there were 35 recorded drug-related deaths — 10 of which
were caused by heroin and another 21 involved opiate prescription
medications. The year prior to that, Waukesha County had 21 deaths
from heroin and 28 opiate-related deaths.
Twenty-four of the deaths were ruled accidents, while five were
deemed suicides and five more were undetermined.
Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said the numbers show
the area is “holding steady,” but was unsure if that is a positive
Before she was appointed DA by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this month,
Opper worked for the county as a deputy district attorney, almost
exclusively handling Len Bias homicide cases — in which drug dealers
are charged with first-degree reckless homicide when someone dies
from using their product.
She still plans on handling those cases personally.
A newly galvanized community
Many heroin addicts begin by taking prescription medications, which
both Opper and Muchka said are becoming far too easily obtainable.
Data from the 2014 Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and
Other Drug Use shows that between January and June of 2013, there
were 841 prescriptions per 1,000 population in Waukesha County. “For
me, from what I see, the issue continues to be the painkillers and
how readily available they are,” Opper said. “I think it is more of
a societal change that needs to occur that will obviously take a
significant amount of time and effort.”
The profile also shows Waukesha County had 1,098
drug-related hospitalizations in 2012 — the second-highest total
among Wisconsin’s 72 counties and more than 7 percent of the 15,454
total hospitalizations statewide that year.
Opper believes doctors need to understand the
impact opiates they prescribe can have.
“I just don’t think they see where it leads to,”
she said. “Their intentions are very good, they are trying to help a
patient, but I don’t think they see the big picture. They don’t see
the end result that we do.”
With more than two dozen deaths, 2014 becomes at
least the third consecutive year in which heroin- and opiate-related
deaths have outpaced the number of traffic fatalities in Waukesha
County. In 2012 and 2013 each, 28 people died in traffic accidents
and another 24 fatalities were recorded last year, according to
preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
“That is shocking,” Muchka said. “If that
continues to trend upwards, we have a major, major problem we have
got to deal with.”
But Muchka believes local awareness has
increased dramatically as parents have begun taking more notice of
The movement is also beginning to pick up
support from private businesses and the medical field, which could
bring in more funding for education and prevention programs.
Muchka said the issue is galvanizing the local
“Everybody is coming together in Waukesha County
in ways that we haven’t before,” he said. “It may have happened
slowly, but the good news is that it is happening.”
testing hits speed bump
Community members urge board to consider policy again after alleged
inaccuracies, confusing wording By Eric
Oliver - Enterprise Staff
Feb. 19, 2015
OCONOMOWOC — A random drug
testing policy for students in the Oconomowoc Area School District
will have to clear one more hurdle, after community members raised
concerns at the School Board’s Tuesday meeting.
The board’s Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee had
recommended the board waive a second reading and approve the policy.
Board member Steve Zimmer made a motion to do just that, but
eventually recalled it after considering what two community members
said during public comment against bypassing the second reading.
The board ultimately approved a first reading of the policy by a 6-1
vote. Board member Dave Guckenberger, who is against the policy
testing intermediate school students, was the lone dissenting vote.
The community concerns focused on questions regarding survey data
used to support the policy and whether the public wanted the policy.
Oconomowoc resident Karl Buschhaus urged the board to examine the
information posted on the OASD website after finding what he
believes are inaccuracies in drug usage surveys presented to the
board. He claimed that information in the Youth Behavior Risk
Survey, a survey of the students enrolled in health classes is
While Director of Student Services Lisa Dawes admitted at the
Tuesday meeting the data on the survey was confusing, Oconomowoc
High School counselor Scott Bakkum told the Enterprise Wednesday the
data may have underreported the amount of drug use. Director of
Communications and Marketing Kate Winkler said Wednesday the
district could not release the survey. “We are confident that the
proposed drug testing policy was crafted using a highly inclusive
process involving parents, staff, students and community members
over the past 9 months,” according to a district statement released
by Winkler. “The data shows that drug use and abuse is a public
health crisis in our state and our community. We are making every
effort to help our children stay safe and drug-free. This policy is
part of a comprehensive approach to intervention, consistent with
our AODA programs district-wide.”
Buschhaus also said even though the majority of parents at the
public meeting in October spoke out against the drug policy, the
board was assured the “silent majority,” was for it at the February
Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee meeting. He asked
the board to gather more information and to possibly survey parents.
Board member Jessica Karnowski was one of the
parents at that October meeting before she was a member of the
She previously told the Enterprise she had
concerns about the policy, including whether it would deter drug use
and the role parents would have. She also said the district’s
proposed policy a “bullying tactic.”
Karnowski addressed those comments at the
meeting in a long speech stressing the growing heroin problem in the
community. She said she changed her mind after doing some research
and failing to find a study or statistic that implied a drug test at
school would be detrimental to a student body.
“Let’s give them another weapon in their arsenal
to say no,” Karnowski said.
The policy will be brought
up at the March 17 meeting.
Helping heroin addicts test jails
Inmates having withdrawal symptoms need to be monitored By AMANDA VOSS - Daily News
Feb. 1, 2015
Washington County Sheriff Dale
Schmidt gives an update during the Common Sense
Citizens of Washington County on Wednesday at the
Moose Lodge chapter 1398 in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
The number of heroin-addicted inmates — some of whom are
monitored every 30 minutes for withdrawal symptoms — has
increased in the Washington County Jail.
Lt. Scott Lehman of the Washington County Sheriff’s
Department said they’ve seen steady growth in that area.
“I’ve worked here for 15 years,” Lehman said. “When I
started I got a few who said they’ve used it and now it’s a
Members of the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department are
seeing the same.
Capt. Jeffrey Sauer, jail administrator and court services
captain at the Ozaukee County Jail, said there’s been a
dramatic increase in the number of inmates addicted to
heroin in their jail.
The inside of a holding cell is
seen Friday at the Ozaukee Sheriff’s Department in
Port Washington. John Ehlke/Daily News
He said on a Monday,
there used to be one or two inmates in the Ozaukee County
Jail addicted to heroin; now six out of eight of its
observation cells are used to treat inmates addicted to
heroin arrested over the weekend.
Lt. Martin Schulteis of the Washington County Sheriff’s
Department said heroin is a Schedule I drug as defined by
Wisconsin statues. When someone is arrested for the
possession of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug they are not
arrested on the specific drug for possession, but the class
In 2014, there were 258 physical bookings into the
Washington County Jail for possession of a Schedule I or II
narcotic drug. There were 36 more bookings for the delivery
Lehman said inmates come in the jail through the booking
He said officers make an assessment to determine whether or
not the person arrested is fit for jail. Information from
the arresting officer is examined, a questionnaire is filled
out about medical and mental health, and inmates are asked
if they take any drugs.
“A lot of other people we see they’ve been through our
system,” Lehman said. “We look at past history.”
If an officer finds out the inmate has used heroin, Lehman
said certain procedures are put in place.
“Our first concern is their health,” Lehman said. “If
they’ve used within 24 hours, they are put on a watch. An
officer comes around every 30 minutes and logs their
If the inmate hasn’t used within 24 hours, but is showing
signs of withdrawal, they are put on a watch, Lehman said.
Steve Dahlen, house manager at Exodus
House in Kewaskum, said he’s been told the symptoms include
shakes, hot and cold sweats, body aches, vomiting and
“Basically, the way it’s been described
to me is you feel like you are going to die and you almost
wish you were dead,” Dahlen said.
Dahlen, a recovering alcoholic, said the
last time he was incarcerated in 2005 heroin wasn’t as
prominent as it is now.
“Every once in a while you got a guy in
your pod withdrawing from heroin,” Dahlen said. “They pretty
much sit in their cell. They don’t do anything. They’re just
feeling miserable. Maybe after four or five days they start
to eat a little something. Maybe a week to two weeks they
start to feel a little better.”
Cheryl Gnodtke, lead nurse at the
Ozaukee County Jail, said inmates experiencing heroin
withdrawal are put in an observation cell. Their blood
pressure, heart rate, physical symptoms, changes in
appetite, auditory or visual hallucinations are monitored.
She said inmates experiencing withdrawal
symptoms are usually monitored 48-72 hours and then the
inmate is transferred to the general population where they
In the Washington County Jail, a nurse
completes a medical assessment and some inmates are
prescribed medication for withdrawals.
Since Lehman has been at the Washington
County Sheriff’s Department he said they’ve taken more of a
medical approach when monitoring inmates experiencing heroin
“With the sheer numbers we are seeing
we’re a lot more defined on what we do,” Lehman said adding
there are more tools at their disposal like checking oxygen
“Our officers do a fantastic job,”
Lehman said, adding their booking officers attend drug abuse
Glenn Zipperer, a licensed clinical
social worker and certified substance abuse counselor at the
Ozaukee County Jail, said there is more of an emphasis on
medical treatment whereas before it was a cold-turkey
There are also treatment programs in the
Washington and Ozaukee jails to help inmates addicted to
heroin, other drugs and alcohol.
“We have volunteers who run a Narcotics
Anonymous group with the jail, which has been well attended,
but unfortunately we are not equipped to be a rehabilitation
center,” Lehman said. “We work with human services to help
provide inmates with information on other resources
available in the community and we do everything we can to
help stabilize them while they are incarcerated.”
Zipperer said in the holding area at the
Ozaukee County Jail inmates are assessed and learn about the
treatment programs and services available like individual
and group counseling.
Ozaukee County Jail might offer a new
treatment program specifically for inmates addicted to
heroin, Sauer said.
“It’s still in the beginning stages of
that,” Sauer said, adding they are teaming up with the human
services department, but the program is a work in progress
and is not sure when it will be implemented.
Dahlen runs an Alcoholics Anonymous
meeting as a volunteer in the Washington County Jail and
said some inmates, who are addicted to alcohol and heroin,
have been in AA meetings. He said inmates learn coping
skills, life skills and how to eliminate their triggers.
“Anything visual, audio or feeling a
sensation of the drug or the drink,” Dahlen said. “A lot of
times for the addicts a lot of them get a little rush from
the pin prick of the needle and the drug isn’t even in them
yet. When they see documentaries like ‘Intervention’ that
could be a trigger.”
He said inmates also learn how to deal
with life on life’s terms, come to terms with what their
addiction is, who they’ve hurt and how it affects everyone.
Dahlen said when some inmates are
released from jail they go back to using right away.
“Something to celebrate for getting out
of jail or that’s their comfort zone,” Dahlen said.
Dahlen has also seen heroin use grow.
“Say 12 to 13 years ago, I went through
Exodus House as a resident the first time it was primarily
alcohol,” Dahlen said. “There might be one or two cocaine
addicts and there really was no heroin. I went through the
Exodus House again in 2008 and as a resident I noticed a
couple of guys out of 20 that had pill addictions and
He said he’s been working at Exodus
House for six and a half years and the number of residents
addicted to heroin has doubled every year.
Sauer said heroin has been an issue that
has increased in the last five years in Ozaukee County.
“We’re struggling to address it,” Sauer
said. “It’s been a rapidly increasing problem.”
He said if the program to help inmates
addicted to heroin is set up in the Ozaukee County Jail, it
could be a solution.
When asked if the increase in inmates
who come to the Washington County Jail addicted to heroin
has cost the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Lehman
said it would be difficult to determine.
addiction costs the entire community on multiple levels, but
putting a dollar amount on what it costs the Sheriff’s
Department would be difficult, if not impossible to do,”
Drug Treatment Court program helps addicts,
suffers from low graduation rate By Matt Masterson -
Jan. 29, 2015
— Kyle Steinbrecher knows where his life could have gone if
he hadn’t entered Waukesha County’s Drug Treatment Court
“I would be dead or in prison,” he said, “but probably
Steinbrecher, 26, graduated from the program in November
after more than a year of treatment and said he is grateful
for the opportunity he was offered to get help and break his
The program, which began in 2012, offers addicts who are
facing criminal charges the chance to avoid jail time with
regular court appearances and case management appointments,
including office and home visits as well as random alcohol
and drug testing.
But through two full years, the graduation rate for DTC
stands at just 35 percent — less than half the rate for the
county’s Alcohol Treatment Court, which deals with thirdand
fourth-time operating while intoxicated offenders —
according to Sara Carpenter, the multicounty court services
administrator for Wisconsin Community Services.
“What we hear from participants,” she said, “is that it is a
whole different animal than Alcohol Treatment Court.
Addiction to this drug is a whole different ball game and
these clients have so many struggles and it isn’t just
addiction — it’s family, it is mental health, it’s
employment, it’s education.”
A dangerous gateway
Steinbrecher, who spoke before the county’s Criminal Justice
Collaborating Committee during its meeting Wednesday, said
he began using marijuana when he was 17. Quickly, though,
that took a turn down a more dangerous path.
addiction progressed through marijuana to Ecstasy, cocaine,
acid, mushrooms, heroin and opiates,” he said. “When I got
to opiates it was like I found my calling for drugs.”
He said a dealer started off giving him
the drugs for free, but when that ran out he was forced to
start buying them. Once he lost his job, he turned to
stealing, lying and manipulating his way into finding his
next fix. He pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and
delivering narcotics on separate occasions before an arrest
for disorderly conduct had him facing a decade in prison.
“That was kind of like my wake-up call,”
he said. “Everybody has their different rock bottom or a
wake-up call — for me it was facing 10 years in prison and
realizing is prison really going to help me or is it just
going to give me different connections?”
Instead, his attorney got him enrolled
in the Drug Treatment Court program, sparing him from
further jail time.
Not many grads
Carpenter said participants in Drug
Treatment Court also have far more needs than their
counterparts in ATC, which demands more from the program’s
two caseworkers — who, she said, barely have time to eat
Their current caseload includes 46
In a report to the CJCC, Carpenter said
in 2014 DTC accepted 112 participants and finished the year
with 59 more on its wait list. Of those accepted, seven
graduated, bringing the program’s total number of graduates
up to 17 in its history.
Those numbers compare rather unfavorably
with Alcohol Treatment Court, where last year alone there
were 31 graduates from the third-offense OWI population and
17 more from the fourtime offenders.
In addition, graduates from DTC last
year were with the program for an average of 556 days — well
above the 425day average for third-time OWI offenders.
CJCC Coordinator Rebecca Luczaj said the
county is aware of these disparities and is taking steps to
try and boost DTC graduation, including reaching out to
American University, a nationwide technical assistance
provider for the program.
“I told them our dilemma,” Luczaj said,
“that we have a low graduation rate and wanted them to look
at that and see what we can do. So they are actually going
to send us some technical assistance consultants who are
going to meet with our team and work with us just analyzing
how our program operates now and maybe make some suggestions
of some things we can do to maybe increase that number.”
‘I have my old son back.’
Steinbrecher entered Drug Treatment
Court on Oct. 31, 2013. He said the early stages of the
program were overwhelming because so much is required. But
within a couple months, he was in a routine and became more
comfortable with his caseworkers.
“I was closed in the beginning,” he
said. “But I realized that unless you talk about something,
you are not going to fix it.
“If I could fix my own problem... I
wouldn’t need any of you. If I could get off drugs on my own
it would be like, whatever, but that is not the case.”
He said he relied on the color call
system, a daily routine where participants are called for
random drug tests based on different colors chosen each day,
to help him stay focused on recovery rather than seeking out
drugs — something he said never really crossed his mind
Steinbrecher graduated from Drug
Treatment Court on Nov. 18, 2014, 383 days after he entered
it. He said he is back working and still receives help from
staff as well as monthly injections of Vivitrol — an opioid
receptor antagonist used once monthly to combat opioid
He received an ovation from the full
committee after sharing his story and was invited by CJCC
Chair Judge Jennifer Dorow to return to the program in the
future as a visitor.
“I appreciate the opportunity I got,” he
said. “My mom is happy — she is like ‘I have my old son
Rindo: ‘I’m sick and tired of burying kids’
Board committee approves random drug test policy By Eric Oliver - Enterprise
Jan. 29, 2015
OCONOMOWOC — A
School Board committee on Tuesday approved a policy that
could see 75 percent to 80 percent of Oconomowoc students in
grades seven through 12 randomly drug tested starting next
The Committee on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
approved the proposal, which, if the School Board approves
it at its Feb. 17 meeting, would apply to all students
engaged in sports and extracurricular activities and those
signing up to park in the high school parking lot.
Random drug tests
Director of Student Services and Special Education Lisa
Dawes presented the proposed random drug test policies to
the committee. Under the plan, the district would cover the
cost of a standard split sample test, where two specimens
are separately screened for drugs. If a parent or student
wishes to contest a positive finding, a third test of the
original sample can be done at their expense.
If the policy is approved by the board, the next steps will
be to look for a vendor to conduct the testing, make updates
to the student handbooks, develop a conset form and have
conversations at freshman athletic meetings about the new
School Board members John Suttner and Jessica Karnowski
showed interest over an option for private testing that
could be conducted at a pre-approved offsite facility within
Dawes said that should not be considered because of the
possibility of altering the sample.
Oconomowoc Area School District Superintendent Roger Rindo
said standardizing is the best way to ensure equal treatment
to all students. Dawes and Rindo said that the test as well
as the inclusion of all the current anti-drug practices will
be another tool for students to say no.
“As superintendent we’re responsible for
5,200 kids and if this is a policy that impacts one life I
can’t say that it is something I can’t fully support,” Rindo
said. “Right now we can’t say that we are doing everything
and I’m sick and tired of burying kids. At least if we have
this in place along with all the other things we are doing I
can sleep at night saying we are doing everything we can.”
Karnowski had another concern over the
effectiveness of the new drug policy as a deterrent since
the current policy is not acting as such. Rindo said that
the current policy is not sufficient enough because it can
only punish students for drug use on the property or by
Dawes said a reason it’s ineffective is
because it relies heavily on students to report illegal
substance use, which does not happen.
problem not going away; a sustained fight needed Enterprise Editorial
Jan. 29, 2015
problem in Waukesha County, like hundreds of other
communities in the U.S., is not going away anytime soon —
particularly if we take our eyes off the ultimate goal:
saving lives and getting addicts in treatment.
Oconomowoc Area School District Superintendent Roger Rindo
said at a meeting of the Committee on Curriculum,
Instruction and Assessment he didn’t want to sound
melodramatic, but that he was “sick of burying kids.”
His message wasn’t melodramatic, it was the truth and it
needs to be amplified many times over until everyone hears
it loud and clear: We must stop the senseless deaths of our
Rindo and the school district’s aggressive drug testing
policy is in the right; unprecedented risks require
unprecedented measures, particularly when safeguarding
against a foe as insidious as opiates.
It might be difficult for parents to imagine their middle
schoolers, or even elementary schoolers, experimenting with
or using drugs. However, time and time again, we see court
documents that outline the use and abuse of opiates by teens
and even pre-teens.
It is easy to rally a community beset by tragedy, be that
cancer or a terrible accident or an overdose. However,
what’s really needed is sustained awareness about the
problem by every person in the community.
Opiate addiction has no socioeconomic or racial boundaries.
Blame is irrelevant and wrongheaded. Solutions are the only
thing that matter.
In that spirit, the next Stairway to Heroin event will take
place on Tuesday, Feb. 17, starting with a resource fair at
5:45 p.m. and a program from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at
Westbrook Church, 1100 Highway 83 in Hartland.
The event is the third in the Stairway to Heroin series and
is titled “A Bridge to Action, Communities Coming Together.”
HEROIN TASK FORCE
Avoiding the ‘tangle’of the courts
Program offers new options for addicts who commit crimes By Denise Seyfer - News
Jan. 22, 2015
PORT WASHINGTON — A newly implemented program is giving new
options for selected drug offenders with a hope that it will
curb the drug problem countywide and keep the offenders out
of the criminal justice system.
Thanks to a $132,900 grant from the Wisconsin Department of
Justice, the Ozaukee County District Attorney’s Office and
local judges are working with Starting Point of Ozaukee to
implement a treatment alternatives and diversion program, or
TAD, for offenders who meet the criteria. The county is
making a $37,780 match. The goal of the program is to change
the behavior of those who may have committed crimes due to
their drug or alcohol addiction.
“The program is actively (helping individuals,)” said Kerry
Young, TAD program coordinator and case manager for Ozaukee
County. “What this program offers to individuals who have
alcohol or drug charges is an opportunity to avoid getting
tangled in the criminal justice system.”
Ozaukee County currently has eight active TAD cases, with
three cases pending and five cases that were pinpointed for
diversion or deferred prosecution and have not responded to
the opportunity to enter the program, Young said.
Recently released statistics from the Ozaukee County
Sheriff’s Office drug unit show seizures of prescription
drugs, heroin, cocaine and marijuana support the necessity
to provide substance abuse treatment, interventions and
“The numbers are solely based on the drug unit’s activity,”
said Ozaukee Sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Galbraith, head of the
drug unit. “As far as cocaine and marijuana being higher is
very much likely affected by who the informant(s) was and
who they had access to during that year and not by the
availability or price of the drug. Other drug levels that
were down were likely caused by a lack of informants rather
than any change in the levels of availability of the drug …
(it’s) not a reflection of the problem.”
Four deputies make up the drug unit. The seizure figures do
not include cases and arrests that other officers make
throughout the sheriff’s office and other countywide law
enforcement officers, Galbraith said. TAD focuses on
reducing recidivism and incarceration due to substance abuse
by providing treatment and support to break the addiction
cycle in individuals who meet criteria set by the courts and
the DA’s office. Though many different TAD models exist,
Ozaukee County uses a diversion and district attorney model,
in which the DA makes referrals which are sent to a case
manager for evaluation. The model uses strict guidelines,
such as a zero tolerance for alcohol, drugs and arrests,
holding participants accountable.
“My office selects participants that ordinarily would be
appropriate for (removal) in the criminal justice system,”
said Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol. “People
with no criminal contacts, no hint of violence in the
contact that caused them to be arrested and people that are
truly suspected of having an established or potentially
burgeoning AODA problem. Most of these people are what we
sometimes would call a ‘self-corrector.’ Criminal justice
alone might have been enough to scare a person into better
behavior. However, on probation, there would be little
therapy or oversight.”
Gerol said that evaluation typically begins with a request
for charges from a law enforcement agency. When the DA
believes the defendant may be appropriate for diversion, a
draft of a criminal complaint is written. The complaint is
not filed; however, it is sent to the defendant with a
letter suggesting that they consult with an attorney and
perhaps consider the program. Within 10 days, the person
makes an appointment with Starting Point to see if they
believe the person has an alcohol or drug addiction and
could benefit from the program.
“We are one of over 30 counties that
received funding for TAD,” said Starting Point Director Shea
Halula. “One of the biggest issues with TAD is that many
people do not realize what it is and how cost effective it
Halula added that TAD has a three-year
recidivism rate of 17 percent and every $1 invested in TAD
The evidence-based TAD approach and case
management has been found to “successfully divert nonviolent
offenders with substance abuse treatment needs from further
criminal justice system involvement,” according to the
University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Through the creation of TAD, the
criminal justice system is able to provide increased
opportunities for treatment of substance abusing offenders,
specifically reducing the risk of social, economic and
health problems. In addition to increased criminal justice
costs, substance abuse contributes to chronic disease,
decreased productivity, social and family disruption, lack
of educational attainment and increased health care costs,
the university’s TAD 2007-2010 Evaluation Report’s executive
University studies show TAD projects
successfully divert nonviolent offenders with alcohol or
other drug problems from jail and prison incarceration. A
total of 135,118 incarceration days were averted by TAD
projects during the first four years of TAD, or 86,530 jail
days and 45,588 prison days.
Further, TAD participants are less
likely to be convicted of a new offense after program
discharge than those who do not participate. More than
three-quarters, or 76 percent, of TAD participants are not
convicted of a new crime after their program participation.
TAD conviction rates of 24 percent for
participants is still lower than that of 38.2 percent for
offenders released from prison and convicted of a new crime
within three years, according to Wisconsin Department of
“TAD gives many sectors, such as county
board members, the county administrator, judges, the DA, the
sheriff’s office, human services and health departments, as
well as other key stakeholders the opportunity to come
together as a team and use resources and tools to best serve
the participants,” Halula said.
Area police clock big heroin increases from 2013 to 2014 New
Berlin’s heroin arrests almost doubled By Sarah Pryor -
Jan. 21, 2015 WAUKESHA — Heroin has
been described as an epidemic sweeping southeastern
Wisconsin and Attorney General Brad Schimel has declared it
public enemy number 1, but local police jurisdictions are
still reporting massive increases in heroin-related arrests
during the past two years.
In New Berlin, heroin arrests almost doubled from 2013 to
2014, with police arresting 10 people for heroin possession
and 12 people for heroin paraphernalia in 2013. 18 people
were arrested for heroin possession and 21 for heroin
paraphernalia in 2014.
“We’re definitely not immune to it in New Berlin,” New
Berlin Police Capt. Mike Glider said. “Everyone’s priority
in Waukesha County is to increase awareness of heroin. It’s
not just an inner city problem — the suburbs too. All
jurisdictions have seen an increase. It’s a trend we are
trying to reverse.”
Capt. Jay Iding of the Pewaukee Police Department said
heroin and marijuana numbers ticked up slightly in 2014 over
“Waukesha County as a whole, southeastern Wisconsin as a
whole, it is just that again we are dealing with this heroin
issue,” Iding said. “It is huge.”
New Berlin police also saw a slight
spike in marijuana arrests, from 103 in 2013 to 113 in 2014.
Glider said that might be attributable to two new K-9 units
being used on traffic stops last year.
“They can legally do a sniff around the
vehicle as long as it doesn’t prolong the time of a traffic
stop. If they hit, we can search,” Glider said. “They can
smell drugs coming out of doors or windows, and they’ll go
crazy if they think there are drugs inside the car. It also
works for opiates.”
Waukesha police arrested 263 people for
possession of marijuana in 2013, versus 213 in 2014. In
Waukesha, heroin possession arrests increased from 30 in
2013 to 39 last year. Arrests for selling heroin dropped
from 38 to 13, and arrests for selling cocaine dropped from
41 to 22.
Waukesha Police Lt. Tom Wagner said the
drops might be attributable to a reallocation of resources.
“When you have heroin-related death
investigations, which I believe we had 12 of last year, they
take up a lot of resources,” Wagner said. “It might take a
two-month investigation into one incident that results in
Wagner said although heroin use and
distribution is a growing trend and thus a growing concern,
marijuana and other drugs are still a priority for his
department. He also said many drug offenders are caught when
they’re doing something else illegal.
“It’s like if you get in a fight and
you’ve got a bag of weed in your pocket,” Wagner said.
making mark in county
discovered in area last year By Matt Masterson -
Jan. 21, 2015
Methamphetamine use is not nearly on the crisis level of
heroin and other opioids in Waukesha County, but the drug
has been found in the area and at least one lab was
discovered in the county in 2014 for the first time in
Detective John Kopatich of the Metro Drug Unit gave a
presentation to the county’s Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse
Advisory Committee Tuesday about the production and history
of methamphetamine in Waukesha.
He said meth — a white, odorless powder — is extremely
addictive and produces the same sort of euphoric state as
heroin by boosting dopamine levels in users’ brains.
Last year, the Metro Drug Unit purchased just 86.52 grams of
methamphetamine through undercover agents or informants.
Between 2008 and 2012, the price of meth dropped by 70
percent, but its purity increased by 130 percent, according
The drug is much more common in areas including the southern
United States, the Dakotas and Canada, according to
Kopatich. Most of the country’s meth comes from Mexico, but
it can be made virtually anywhere using inexpensive,
over-the-counter ingredients cooked together in small
“shake-and-bake” or one-pot labs.
“It is very small, easily concealable,” he said. “Over 90
percent of the labs that are getting taken out by law
enforcement across the country are these shake-and-bake
These labs are built using two-liter bottles and allow users
to make one or two grams per cook.
In May a Town of Lisbon man, Dale Saugstad, was charged with
manufacturing meth in one such lab. He told investigators he
learned to do the “shake and bake” method while living down
south, and as far as he knew he was the only person in the
area making meth, according to the criminal complaint
against him. He was eventually found guilty and received a
10-year prison sentence last September.
While these small labs are often easy to hide, they are also
“We talked to one of the DEA agents who came and cleaned up
our lab in Lisbon,” Kopatich said, “(and he said) that 50
percent of the time these will result in explosion.”
Last year five people in Pewaukee were also indicted after
receiving shipments of meth from California.
Recovering addict: ‘I thought I was in
During the meeting, Susie Austin — a member of the AODA
Advisory Committee and herself a recovering methamphetamine
user — recounted the horrors she experienced when the drug
overtook her life two decades ago in Arizona.
“I thought I was in control,” she said. “I had seizures from
overdosing. I had been beaten, I had been raped, I had just
about everything you can have happen ... but I still thought
I was in control.”
Austin, now a Waukesha resident, has been with the committee
for nearly 15 years and works with Celebrate Recovery, a
local recovery program based on Christianity.
Austin said she did not believe she had a problem while she
was using, but quickly got caught up in the drugs. She
received a round of applause from the committee after saying
she had gotten out of that situation 17 years ago.
“You don’t realize what is happening to you,” she said. “I
was 30 years old, I wasn’t a big drug user, then all of a
sudden I got caught up in using and dealing.”
Heroin now part of D.A.R.E. curriculum
Studies have cited little impact on drug, alcohol use By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily News
Jan. 17, 2015
Jenna Rondorf didn’t
know anything about heroin, but by the time the Holy Angels
Catholic School fifth-grader graduated Thursday afternoon
from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program,
she had learned enough to make her want to avoid it.
“I think one of the most important things I learned is that
taking drugs is a big problem and that we need to make good
decisions not to do that,” Rondorf said. “I never heard
about heroin before but I did learn that even if you do it
once, you can get addicted, and that’s bad.”
Rondorf and nearly 40 other fifth-grade students at Holy
Angels joined millions of other children around the world
who have participated in the D.A.R.E. program that is taught
by law enforcement officers.
“We met once a week for an hour for 14 weeks,” Washington
County Sheriff’s Department Detective Hope Demler said just
before the graduation ceremony began Thursday at Holy
Angels. “In the program, we talk about a variety of drugs,
like marijuana and inhalants,” Demler said. “For the first
time, we’ve added a section about heroin, which is a growing
The D.A.R.E. program focuses on much
more than just drugs, Demler noted.
Washington County Sheriff Dale
Schmidt, left, signs the t-shirt of Lola Chemer,
right, a fifth-grader at Holy Angels Catholic School
after she and nearly 40 other students at the school
graduated from the Drub Abuse Resistance Education
(D.A.R.E.) program. Local dignitaries and parents
attended a graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon
for the students at Holy Angels.
Linda McAlpine/Daily News
One of the program’s
goals is to give students the tools they need to make good
decisions, Demler said.
“We talk about other issues, like
alcohol and prescription drug abuse, tobacco use, bullying
and how to resist peer pressure,” Demler said. “We address
making healthy choices and respecting others.”
During the graduation ceremony, four
students were selected to read the essays they wrote about
what they learned in the program. A skit was also presented
about the perils of drinking and driving.
Washington County District Attorney Mark
Bensen led the graduating students in taking the D.A.R.E.
pledge: “I know how dangerous alcohol and other drugs can be
for my body. I pledge to be responsible and never use any
unlawful drugs. I pledge to educate others about the dangers
of drugs. I value my life. I know there are other things to
do than drugs. I can be trusted to keep this pledge.”
Jeff Gonzalez, who was in the audience
to see his son Alex graduate from the program, said there
was one thing in particular he appreciated about D.A.R.E. —
after each session, students had to bring home a paper that
detailed what had been covered that day. The paper, called
Points to Ponder, had to be signed by a parent or guardian
and returned to the school.
“The paper kept us informed about what
our son was learning in the program and it also helped us to
have discussions about those points,” Jeff Gonzalez said.
Washington County Sheriff Dale
Schmidt, left, signs the D.A.R.E. t-shirt of Joe
Held, right, a fifth-grader at Holy Angels Catholic
School as classmate Daniel Krause looks on after
they and nearly 40 other students at the school
graduated from the Drub Abuse Resistance Education
(D.A.R.E.) program. Linda McAlpine/Daily News
When asked if he had
any concerns about the appropriateness of such education for
that group, Gonzalez said no.
“I think it’s very appropriate for this
age group because they’re on the cusp of middle school and
they’re likely to start hearing about these kinds of
things,” Gonzalez said. “We need to help them learn how to
resist peer pressure and this is about the right age for
The Washington County Sheriff’s
Department has been involved in teaching the D.A.R.E.
program in area schools for many years and Schmidt said he
sees it as valuable not only for the students but their
parents as well.
“From my perspective, I think we need to
provide this education because many parents find it
difficult to talk about these things with their kids,”
Not everyone is convinced the program is
effective in deterring kids from using drugs or alcohol.
“We were a part of the program for quite
some time, but then reports came out from the Department of
Justice, the Government Accountability Board and other
science studies that said it had little impact on drug use,”
West Bend Police Department Capt. Tim Dehring said. “The
chief looked at the time and money invested in doing the
program and decided it would be better to use our resources
The liaison officer program, which puts
a police officer in each of the city’s high schools and one
at Badger Middle School, stems from that decision, Dehring
An article from Scientific American that
is featured on that website, notes that “if you were one of
the millions of children who completed the Drug Abuse
Resistance Education program between 1983 and 2009, you may
be surprised to learn that scientists have repeatedly shown
that the program did not work. Despite being the nation’s
most popular substance- abuse prevention program, D.A.R.E.
did not make you less likely to become a drug addict or even
to refuse that first beer from your friends.”
Over the past few years, the D.A.R.E.
curriculum has been revamped. Gone are the long, drug-fact
laden lectures, which have been replaced with interactive
“It’s not an anti-drug program,”
Michelle Miller-Day, co-developer of the curriculum and a
communications researcher at Chapman University, is quoted
as saying in an article on the D.A.R.E. website. “It’s about
things like being honest and safe and responsible.”
Kewaskum Elementary School Principal
Jody Heipp said the D.A.R.E. program will get underway for
fifth-graders next week.
“We feel the
program is something that is proactive. It teaches about
making positive decisions relating to alcohol and drugs, how
to resist peer pressure, having character, being good
citizens and being good role models for others,” Heipp said,
adding that it will be taught by the Kewaskum Police
Drug education for parents
District hosts workshop By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily News
Jan. 15, 2015
Debbie Adelmann of Kewaskum
looks as West Bend Superintendent Ted Neitzke holds
up a jar of spices and a bottle of a prescription
medication as an item to watch during the “Risks
Facing our Children” presentation on Wednesday night
Badger Middle School in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
afternoon, West Bend School District Superintendent Ted
Neitzke went shopping at a grocery store and, in less time
than it takes to have a pizza delivered, he rounded up an
assortment of things that kids are using to get high.
As Neitzke pulled each item out of a paper bag, he explained
to about 80 parents of middle schoolers how things like a
bottle of soda or orange juice can be used to disguise
alcohol use during a workshop Wednesday night on alcohol and
drugs at Badger Middle School.
Neitzke showed parents how items in their kitchens could be
used to get an inexpensive buzz — knowledge that is just a
Google search away for today’s kids.
“We want to help you understand the reality that your kids
are facing, even as middle schoolers,” Neitzke said during
the workshop, which was sponsored by the school district,
the West Bend Police Department and the West Bend Fire
West Bend Police Officer Justin Klopp hosted a slide
presentation in which he shared with parents a litany of
drugs, from the familiar, like marijuana and heroin, to the
latest fad drugs like DXM and ecstasy, and the signs and
symptoms of their use.
“Parents who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s may think that
marijuana is no big deal, but back in the day, weed was not
as potent as it is today,” Klopp said.
Bloodshot eyes, relaxed reflexes, an increase appetite,
dilated pupils, paranoia and disorientation are signs that
can indicate marijuana usage, Klopp said.
Cocaine can be snorted or smoked, which causes symptoms like
excitement, exaggerated reflexes, anxiety, a runny or red
nose, loss of appetite and dilated pupils, Klopp said.
“Ecstasy is still very popular. It comes in pill form and
usually has some sort of markings or design on it,” Klopp
said. “Slang terms for it include molly, wheels, rolls and
e-bombs and signs to look for are a dazed appearance, body
tremors, perspiring and nausea.”
“Heroin usually comes in small foil packs called bindles,”
Klopp said. “Heroin users often put together a kit that
contains a syringe, alcohol wipes, a spoon, a tea light and
a lighter, and something to use as a tourniquet.”
“When people start using heroin, they may snort or smoke it,
but it usually isn’t long before they graduate to using a
Signs of heroin use include a low, raspy voice, falling
asleep, depressed reflexes, facial itching, shallow
breathing and puncture marks, Klopp said.
“Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is an ingredient in cough syrup,”
Klopp said. “Signs of its abuse include a blank stare,
repetitive speech, agitation and possible violent or
West Bend Fire Department Battalion Chief Chuck Beistle told
the audience that the department’s ambulance crews regularly
deal with calls of people overdosing on drugs.
“We had a call for a middle school-aged child who was
unresponsive, that turned out to be an overdose,” Beistle
said. “In another case, a person was dropped off right at
the fire station that was turning blue and wasn’t breathing
but had a faint pulse. His friends had driven around with
him in the car trying to figure out what to do with him.
When we talked to his father, his father said he didn’t know
what was going on. We did all we could but he died at the
fire station. We later found out he had been in the hospital
about two months before from an overdose.”
Beistle said parents need to be honest if their child is
abusing drugs and that they should also know who their
children are hanging out with.
“It’s a scary and confusing world for our kids,” West Bend
Police Capt. Tim Dehring said. “Think about the kind of news
stories our children are exposed to, where they’re hearing
about kindergarten kids being shot and killed while in
school. Think about the kind of television programs that are
out there that seem to encourage growing up too fast.”
“It’s a scary world for us as parents, too, but we need to
remember that we need to be parents to our kids and not try
to be their best friend,” Dehring said.
The district will host a workshop for parents and their
middle school children from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 11 at Badger
Middle School to engage in a conversation about how kids can
avoid risky behaviors.
Schimel to drug dealers: ‘You are public enemy
Waukesha County’s district attorney since 2006 sworn in as
By Matt Masterson - Freeman
Jan. 6, 2015
MADISON — Brad Schimel left no doubt about what his top
priority in office will be.
“I am committed to fighting the scourge of heroin gripping
the state and I am putting the drug smugglers and dealers on
notice: you are public enemy No. 1,” he said, drawing a
round of applause in the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda
during his inauguration as the state’s 44th attorney
Schimel succeeds J.B. Van Hollen, who did not run for
reelection to a third term, after defeating Jefferson County
District Attorney Susan Happ in November.
Waukesha County’s district attorney since 2006, Schimel
officially took the oath of office and was sworn in by state
Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson during a
ceremony in Madison on Monday.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad
Schimel addresses the audience during his
inauguration ceremony at the Capitol in Madison on
Monday. Associated Press
Schimel was introduced
to a crowd of hundreds by his daughters Mackenzie and
Hailey, who said their dad always puts others before himself
and taught them they could do anything if they work hard and
The state’s top lawman said in his 25 years working as a
frontline prosecutor in Waukesha he has worked with victims
from every type of crime imaginable, but the biggest
challenge he has faced is the ongoing heroin and
prescription opioid crisis.
“I have dealt firsthand with heroin,” he said, “and I am
sick of meeting parents who have had to bury a child because
With Schimel on board, Waukesha County has led the state in
the number of Len Bias homicide cases prosecuted — where
drug dealers are charged with first-degree reckless homicide
when users die from using their product. He told The Freeman
last week he is proud of that record, but wants to share it
statewide and go after such cases in communities across
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad
Schimel, left, takes the oath of office from Shirley
Abrahamson, chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme
Court. From Schimel’s left are his daughters Hailey
Mackenzie and wife Sandi. Associated Press
identified Internet predators and human trafficking as other
top priorities he will handle as attorney general and vowed
to “make our college campuses, neighborhoods and Main
State Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, said
he was excited for the inauguration, specifically to hear
what Schimel would have to say. He believes Schimel will be
a great proponent for the justice system and “a wonderful
addition to the team.”
“What I am looking for is Brad to be
Brad,” Farrow said. “He is very tough on crime, he also
looks at how those who have been victims of crimes can get
their lives back on track and he has done a phenomenal job
of that in Waukesha County and I think he is going to bring
some of that experience to the attorney general’s office.”
Former Wisconsin Attorney
General J.B. Van Hollen, left, shakes hands with
newly inaugurated Attorney General Brad Schimel at
the Capitol in Madison on Monday.
Following protests in
Milwaukee in December after a police officer was not charged
in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton last summer,
Schimel stressed that law enforcement would have “no
stronger partner” than the Wisconsin Department of Justice
under his leadership.
“They will have my commitment,” he said,
“that we will work together to ensure a safe Wisconsin.”
HEROIN TASK FORCE
Sober housing considered for Ozaukee County
would create drug, alcohol-free environment for recovery
By Denise Seyfer - News
Jan. 6, 2015
OZAUKEE COUNTY — “To
err is human,” as the saying goes. Accepting the notion,
however, may prove too challenging for some, especially when
referring to individuals who suffer from drug and alcohol
addiction. With increased crime linked to drug use and
addiction, especially to heroin in Ozaukee County, some
people may want to lock up the offenders and throw away the
key. Instead, the Heroin Task Force in Ozaukee County, a
group of community leaders, citizens and law enforcement. is
working for solutions to battle the growing epidemic among
our youth. Members have been collaborating over the last
year to improve the lives of those suffering from addiction,
while preventing other teens from choosing the same path.
One cutting-edge program under consideration to curb
recidivism and relapse entails sober housing. The concept
provides an affordable drug- and alcohol-free environment
that creates a safe place for peer-group recovery support
for nonviolent, first-time offenders. “Many individuals who
are caught up in drug and alcohol dependence often have lost
all support from family and friends who do not use,” said
Ozaukee County Human Services Director Michael Lappen. “We
know that many individuals are in the jail for crimes
related to their substance use. After they have been there
for a while and have been detoxed, they may wish to try and
remain clean and sober, but their only ‘friends’ left are
the people they were using drugs and alcohol with.”
These individuals tend to be arrested
for possession and may face up to a one-year sentence.
Newly seated Ozaukee County Sheriff
James Johnson said that sober housing provides support,
structure and accountability for those with addictions.
“The program requires the addict to
pursue treatment and voluntarily submit to random drug
screens; this maintains accountability” he said. “Sober
housing gives the foundation to acquire skills that help
them to be productive members of society.”
“A body clean of
drugs and alcohol can lead to a clean life.”
— James Johnson, Ozaukee County Sheriff
Ozaukee County does
not currently offer any sober housing options. That tide may
be turning though, as members of the task force’s policy and
advocacy committee explore potential houses to use as a
transitional living facility.
the proposed sober-housing business plan, those individuals
selected for sober housing will undergo a rigorous interview
process. Screening applicants is the “single most important
action that can be taken,” which will require a
person-to-person interview with the house managers and
staff, according to the plan.
Selected individuals must prove their
dedication to sobriety by their continued involvement in a
12-step recovery program and have to follow all house rules.
Violation of house rules are grounds for immediate eviction,
the plan said.
According to the National Institute on
Drug Abuse, drug addiction is a complex disease and quitting
takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact,
drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug
abuse; therefore, quitting becomes difficult, even for those
who want to quit.
Research shows that combining addiction
treatment medications with behavioral therapy remains the
best way to ensure success for most patients, the
institute’s information said.
Though there are some similarities,
sober housing differs from other types of transitional
housing options such as halfway homes. The key difference is
that halfway houses are for offenders of all types, where a
parole officer is required. Halfway houses place felons such
as drug-users and/or sex offenders and those who are
mentally ill that are coming from a prison, a hospital or a
In addition, halfway homes are governed
by federal and state laws. Those residents are typically
there under court order and cannot move out unless approved
by a judge, court order or a parole officer.
In contrast, privately-owned sober
housing is solely for drug addicts and alcoholics who have
completed detoxification programs, according to information
in the task force business plan. Houses are to never be
co-ed. Its sole purpose is to support the individual in
developing and maintaining holistic, healthy habits and
activities that aid in long-term sobriety.
Curfews, drug testing, household chores,
cooking and group meetings are common features in these
settings, according to the business plan. Often, house rules
mandate that individuals must be actively in school or
looking for employment. Therefore, some sober houses lock
their doors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., hoping residents are
engaged in healthy lifestyle activities.
Sober housing provides many social and
financial advantages, Lappen said.
“The county would see significant
savings in the cost of jailing people if we can reduce
recidivism,” he said. “We would also see a reduction in the
petty crimes related to drug use … stealing from cars,
garages, etc. to support their daily ‘fix.’ The department
of human services has seen a large spike in child welfare
cases related to addiction to opiates and heroin. If we can
help parents get sober, it will reduce the social costs of
kids being impacted by drugs and also the costs to the
taxpayers of removing the kids from their families and
placing them in foster care.”
Although Heroin Task Force members have
a detailed business model for sober housing, they lack the
funding to support the endeavor. Starting Point of Ozaukee
is looking for those organizations or individuals who are
willing to bring this concept to fruition with any and all
time, talents or treasures.
Sober housing provides the door; yet,
each individual must choose to walk through it.
“A body clean of drugs and alcohol can
lead to a clean life,” Johnson said.
Ending the addiction cycle
Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series
on heroin addiction. By Ken Merrill - Daily News
Dec. 30, 2014
The chances that a heroin addict can simply decide to quit —
and stay clean — are slim.
Until recently, the dominant thinking in the medical
community was that addiction is a disease. People with
addictions aren’t bad people, they’re just sick, we were
Research has shown that drug addiction alters brain
structure until it becomes an uncontrollable compulsive
Over time, everything is about heroin. Interpersonal
relationships — family, friends — are only worth what they
do to enhance the addict’s ability to get more heroin.
The common thread between addiction and diseases is that
left untreated, they can be fatal.
Tina Perry, 44, is a recovering cocaine addict with a child
in prison for heroin-related offenses.
“There’s no face to an addict,” Perry said. “There’s no
lifestyle to an addict. It’s an addiction that anybody — any
race, any color, any age — could have.
“I’ve heard ‘Mom, this is a beautiful drug,’ but it destroys
and wrecks lives,” Perry said. “You can teach your children
this is not good, this is not the way to be ... it’s not
ever the parents’ fault. It doesn’t matter if you come from
money or if you don’t. The scenarios don’t matter.”
Perry started using drugs as a teenager in the late 1980s at
the height of cocaine’s popularity.
After a suicide attempt — she slit her wrists at the end of
a four-day party — she was forced into rehab.
“I completed the rehab and changed my life,” Perry said.
“Done with the drugs, done with the lifestyle. I did not go
back to the people who I hung around with. I couldn’t go
back to the kids I partied with because I probably would
have continued that lifestyle. Something just released in
me. I didn’t want that life any more.”
It’s personal, too, for Jessica Geschke, director of Alcohol
and Other Drug Abuse Services at Affiliated Clinical
Services in West Bend and a street team coordinator for Rise
Together, a support and advocacy group for recovering
Her brother’s a heroin addict — “two months clean” she said.
“That’s why I got into this.
“My family has been through hell and back,” Geschke said.
“I’m in recovery myself, trying to figure out the right way
to do this balancing act so that I don’t enable his
■ Recovering heroin addicts tell their stories on video
“Sure,” she said.
“I’ve met lots of addicts who have quit without any type of
services. They’ve been strong in their NA (Narcotics
Anonymous) and their faith and they say ‘I’ve never needed
treatment.’ “They detox at home by themselves,” Geschke
said. “It’s horrible. It’s not something I would recommend
because you don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
Nadine Machkovech, 21, was able to detox
and stay clean without a formal rehab program.
Now a recovery coach and street team
coordinator for Rise Together, Machkovech pointed to two
events that led to her recovery.
“I lost my grandma and a close friend
died of a heroin overdose,” Machkovech said. “I had a lot of
guilt and shame — why had it taken him instead of me?”
Jessie Geschke of Affiliated
Services leans her sweatshirt on the back of a chair
at one of her desks at the group therapy office on
Dec. 18 in West Bend. Her brother also wears the
sweatshirt. He is in
“long-term recovery” for heroin addiction.
John Ehlke/Daily News
After squandering the
inheritance she received from her grandmother on an extended
drug binge, Machkovech came clean.
“When I quit using I surrounded myself
with really healthy people,” she said. “I was with my sister
and her husband and I was doing 12-step support groups and
going to church. The first couple of months after I stopped
using it was hard to even think clearly. For so long, the
drugs were making all the decisions for me. It was hard for
me to understand how a person lives a normal life.
“Without my faith I know I wouldn’t be
where I am today,” Machkovech said. “I finally realized that
I had some kind of purpose in life, that I was put on earth
for a reason. Two weeks after that I met Doug (Darby) and
Anthony (Alvarado) through Rise Together and I started
sharing my story. I found my purpose in life through that.”
Darby and Alvarado are cofounders of
Steve Dahlen is an alcoholic. He’s been
sober since April 8, 2008, and works as a house manager at
Exodus House, a transitional care facility in Kewaskum for
alcoholics and drug addicts. Most of the residents are
Steve Dahlen, a supervisor at
Exodus House in Kewaskum, is shown Dec. 16.
John Ehlke/Daily News
“No one wakes up one
day and says ‘I think I’ll be a heroin addict,’” Dahlen
said. “It’s something they get into and as they progress
their life gets more and more out of control.”
Recovery is “a long process,” Dahlen
said. “It’s not just 90 days at the Exodus House and it’s
not just getting off the substance. It’s a lifestyle change.
“That person you see that’s addicted,
doing terrible things, it’s not the person, it’s the drugs,”
Dahlen said. “We made bad choices. Once you take that drug
away and you see them, six, nine months later he’s a whole
other person. It’s not the person, it’s the drugs that
turned him into that.”
For all its advances, the medical
community has been unable to develop a solution. There’s no
magic bullet to cure addiction.
“It’s a chronically relapsing disease,”
said Geschke. “It’s impossible to tell who will be
successful” in rehabilitation and recovery.
Dahlen said addicts have to hit “rock
bottom” before they’re ready to change.
“The rock bottom for me was being
arrested, taken out of my house and not remembering,” he
said. “I was the town drunk in Jackson.”
He sees people at rock bottom.
“When people come into treatment, when
you see the look on their face, they’re very desperate,”
Dahlen said. “When you talk to them after 30 days of
treatment they’re a totally different person. Sometimes they
come back a year later that they’re sober, they got married,
they’ve got kids on the way, they’ve got a house, a good
job. You never know what to expect of a resident when they
come to us.”
Dahlen said his work “makes me feel good
instead of thinking about all the crap I did.”
Katie Jones, a recovering heroin addict,
said criminal activity to support her habit was, ultimately,
“I became very good at making checks.
Forging names,” she said. “That’s ultimately how I got clean
— I went to prison. I don’t have any drug charges ... more
than for forgery. I ended up getting caught in 2004. I
stayed in the House of Corrections in Franklin for a year.
Katie Jones of Affiliated
Services sits in front of a display she created for
the group therapy room in one of their offices on
Dec. 18 in West Bend. Jones has been 11 years clean
of heroin use. She started with crystal
methamphetamine and progressed to heroin.
John Ehlke/Daily News
“When I got out I just
told myself I’m not doing that again. I remapped everything
I ever thought and started working on myself and the things
I needed to fix.”
Geschke faced a personal crisis recently
after the overdose deaths of three clients.
“I was at a point where I just said ‘I’m
done. I can’t watch people die.’ “But then I went to a
meeting of Rise Together and had a fire built under me,”
Geschke said. “I may end up burying clients but I help 50
more. I help people every day.”
Perry’s experience has led her to create
a program she calls “Just Listen.”
“It’s a positive living, positive
lifestyle and also a substance abuse awareness program,” she
said. “I want my program to be so good that they will not
want to use to be a part of my program.
“I have a race
with myself,” Perry said. “It’s not only to help my child,
but the public. The faster I can reach out to people, the
faster I will be saving lives and helping families.”
No common denominator
Heroin addicts come from variety of backgrounds
Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series on heroin
addiction. By Ken Merrill - Daily News
Dec. 29, 2014
Heroin, it seems, is everywhere.
It was once rare and expensive — the province of musicians
and entertainers. Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Charlie
Parker, Miles Davis, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton
overcame heroin addictions. Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, John
Belushi, River Phoenix, Chris Farley, Corey Monteith and
Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t. It’s a long list.
No longer. Heroin is readily available and inexpensive.
It’s synthesized from morphine, which is refined from opium
in the seed pods of poppies. A powder, it can be smoked,
snorted or injected. Inside your body, heroin is converted
to morphine and binds to opioid receptors in the brain. An
intense rush of pleasure — the “high” — quickly follows.
“It’s better than sex,” said Katie Jones, 43, a recovering
addict who works as a street team coordinator with Rise
Together, a support and advocacy group for recovering
Jones’ parents divorced when she was a preschooler, and she
said her father’s family “has a lot of addiction issues.”
When her mother remarried, she was sexually abused by her
stepdad, who ended up being sentenced to prison.
“I think a majority of my issues came from not only of it
being in the genes — y’know it runs in the family — but
because of not dealing with things myself, the sexual
abuse,” Jones said.
She began smoking marijuana and drinking
in high school, and by her mid-20s she was injecting
methamphetamine. She was introduced to heroin while on
“The first time I tried it I was like,
‘why have I never heard of this before?’” Jones said. “It
totally numbed everything. I didn’t have to think about
issues I was going through or bills or a house to take care
of — all that kind of stuff.
“It’s like a dream state,” she said.
Nadine Machkovech, 21, a recovery coach
and street team coordinator for Rise Together, grew up with
“very loving and caring” parents in Beaver Dam, attending a
Catholic middle school and graduating from Beaver Dam High
“I started using when I was 14 with
alcohol,” Machkovech said. “When I got to high school,
everybody was partying.”
Drinking, smoking marijuana. Everybody
was doing it.
Nadine Machkovech of Appleton
wears bracelets of Rise Together and WI United We
Can, two organizations she supports. Machkovech
celebrated one year of being sober Dec. 11.
John Ehlke/Daily News
quickly turned into an everyday use,” she said. “After that
it was cocaine, Adderol — and by the time I was 16, 17, I
started using prescription pills. I was getting into so much
trouble that I was looking for something more to make the
feelings that I didn’t want to feel go away. I started using
opiates, mainly Percocet. That spiraled into daily as well
as shooting them up and entering into heroin.
“I have been in recovery since Dec. 11
of last year,” Machkovech said.
Studies show that most heroin addicts
start by using prescription pills — pilfering Vicodin,
Percocet or Oxycontin from the medicine cabinet or buying
from friends. Also derived from the poppy plant, opioid
pills are synthetic heroin.
“Pills were extremely expensive,”
Machkovech said. “I had to deal a lot just to get my fix. At
first my family members were being prescribed, so that’s
where I got it from, then I was buying it off the streets.
“My family really didn’t know the extent
of my drug use, but they enabled my addiction,” she said. “I
was very good at manipulating them. I would do whatever my
dad asked just to get what I wanted.”
Machkovech said the transition from
pills to heroin was easy.
“I was already shooting up pills,” she
said. “I was looking for a quicker high. Heroin was cheaper
and would get in my system faster. It was a small step from
shooting up pills to shooting up heroin. It felt like a rush
... a wave went through my whole body and I was completely
“When I started shooting heroin I was
just tired all the time,” Machkovech said. “I was crabby. I
usually didn’t do much. Didn’t shower for days. I would be
OK as long as I wasn’t sick.”
Tina Perry, 44, is both an addict and
the mother of a heroin addict.
A cocaine addict as a Chicago-area
teenager who was forced into rehab after a suicide attempt,
Perry said being the parent of an addict is all-consuming.
“You never know how your day is gonna
go,” Perry said. “I’m scared to death to get a phone call or
get a knock on my door because I know what that means. When
my phone rings I’m afraid to look at it because I don’t
know. I don’t sleep well. I’ve had very crazy days being the
parent of an addict.
Tina Perry smiles as she looks
over the angel decoration she found that reminded
her of her daughter Dec. 9 at her home in Mequon.
Perry has a daughter in prison on heroin-related
charges. John Ehlke/Daily News
“Addicts do not start out as criminals but they turn into
criminals,” Perry said. “They will do anything to get this
“I was already
shooting up pills. I was looking for a quicker high. Heroin
was cheaper and would get in my system faster. It was a
small step from shooting up pills to shooting up heroin.”
Bias Law an imperfect yet necessary tool in fighting opiates Oconomowoc Enterprise
Dec. 17, 2014
Last week, warrants were issued for the arrest of two women
charged with reckless homicide in the January overdose death
of Samantha Medinger.
It is one of many reckless homicide cases in the county this
year. The uptick is due to the increase in overdose deaths
from heroin and prescription opiates.
Unfortunately, this has deeply affected Oconomowoc. Archie
Badura, a young OHS alum, also died from an overdose here
this year. It is a pair of tragedies that has proven
everyone is susceptible to the devastation opiate use and
addiction can have on families and communities.
In 1986, Maryland basketball standout Len Bias died of a
cocaine overdose just days after being drafted to play for
the Boston Celtics.
At that time, it was huge national news. A young star just
starting his career collapses and dies after using what at
the time was a drug at the height of its popularity. It
stirred a national debate and a new awareness of the dangers
of hard drugs.
Congress passed the the Len Bias law to address the growing
concern. The law allows drug suppliers to be held
accountable for deaths associated with the drugs they deal.
Wisconsin passed similar legislation two years later.
For the next decade, the law was rarely used, but with the
current rise in opiate and heroin addiction and associated
overdose deaths, it is now being employed liberally
The law is often applied to friends of the victim, rarely to
high-level dealers. The law states the person who supplied
the drug can be held responsible. It doesn’t discern between
someone giving the drugs to the victim or selling the drugs.
Sometimes this is a fellow user that is also addicted to
No law is perfect and there will always be a gray area when
it comes to addiction and who ultimately can be held
responsible for another person’s overdose death.
However, as more and more young people succumb and often die
due to illegal opiate use, it is a solid start in coming to
terms with a problem that must be vigorously fought so the
tragedies that beset the Medingers and the Baduras stop
spreading to more families.
Learning more about growing problem
Dozens turn out for Milwaukee community meeting on heroin By RICH ROVITO - Special to
Dec. 2, 2014
Tate doesn’t need statistics to prove to her that there is a
growing heroin problem in the Milwaukee area. She has
already experienced the nightmare that comes from losing a
child to the drug.
Tate’s daughter, Valerie Powers-Ferris,
died of a heroin overdose in March 2013 at the age of 36
after a lengthy battle with addiction.
"I missed a lot of clues. But who thinks there child is
Tate said, a framed photograph of her smiling daughter
positioned on a podium as she spoke to a crowd of about 75
people that gathered Nov. 19 in the auditorium at the
Milwaukee Public Schools Central Services Building on West
The public meeting, organized by Milwaukee Common Council
President Michael Murphy, aimed at starting a dialogue about
what he sees as a growing public health crisis in the
"We unite to confront the tragic trend of increasing
heroin and opiate addiction," Murphy said.
In 2013, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office
reported 216 drug overdose deaths, the highest number ever
recorded, Murphy said.
Overdose deaths last year tied to heroin use rose 34
percent to 69, up from 56 in 2012.
Through August of this year, the latest period for which
figures are available, 71 deaths from heroin overdoses had
been reported in Milwaukee County, Murphy said.
Addiction to prescription drugs that contain opiates,
which often are prescribed to treat pain or injuries, often
leads to heroin use, Murphy said.
In June, Murphy collaborated with the Zilber Family
Foundation, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and elected
officials in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Racine and
Washington counties in organizing the first Southeast
Wisconsin Regional Heroin/Opiates symposium.
"This trend has had a disastrous impact on families," he
Tate said her daughter, who was a mother to two children,
developed back problems as a teenager that eventually
required surgery. She took prescription drugs to cope with
Several years later, Powers-Ferris was once again
prescribed medication to alleviate pain after being injured
in a car accident. Tate noticed a gradual change in her once
outgoing and effervescent daughter.
"She wasn’t laughing like she used to. There was
irritability and she was withdrawn," Tate said. "I realized
the problem was with the pills at first but I had absolutely
no idea that it had progressed to heroin.
I had no idea where the depths of her addiction were
going to take us."
An opiates abuser has a 25 percent chance of a relapse
even after receiving treatment, said Christine Ullstrup,
vice president of clinical services and programming at Meta
House, a Milwaukee residential drug treatment facility.
Addressing the use of opiates, prescription drugs and
heroin is a major focus of Meta House’s treatment programs.
"You need quality treatment on demand and you need it to
be holistic," Ullstrup said.
Prescription drug and heroin abuse also is plaguing area
schools, said Patricia Daugherty, a Milwaukee County
assistant district attorney.
One in seven teenagers admitted last year to abusing
prescription drugs, she said, noting that the path to
addiction often begins in the medicine cabinet of the
"They aren’t going into the central city and buying it on
the street corner," Daugherty said.
Younger people view pills as safer than street drugs even
though heroin and prescription drugs like oxycodone have a
nearly identical chemical makeup, according to Daugherty.
Heroin often provides a cheaper alternative to
prescription drugs, Daugherty said.
For example, a pill of oxycodone in the Milwaukee area
can range from $15 to $30. An equivalent amount of heroin is
$5 to $10, she said. The depressed price for heroin stems
from a flooded international market.
About 50 people accused of taking part in a major heroin
distribution ring on Milwaukee’s East Side were arrested
earlier this month in an effort to reduce the availability
of the drug, if even only temporarily.
Making matters worse, heroin on the street today can be
as high as 90 percent pure, compare with 10 to 15 percent
several years ago.
"That’s why we are seeing so many more overdoses now.
It’s cheaper, more available and stronger than pills,"
Cavalier attitudes toward pain medications must be
addressed to help temper demand.
"We aren’t going to arrest, legislate or even treat our
way out of this," Daugherty said. "We have to, as a
community, address it from all different avenues. You have
to be willing to lock your medicine cabinets and we can’t
have the same tired ‘just say no’ message. These drugs can
kill the very first time."
Denise Sather, a psychologist who works in the wellness
and prevention office for Milwaukee Public Schools, noted
that a survey showed that the number of MPS high school
students who admitted to using heroin one or more times rose
to 7.4 percent in 2013, an increase of 2.5 percent from
MPS must remain focused on changing students’ behaviors
concerning drugs, Sather said.
But challenges exist.
"Those who speak openly about their addiction are often
treated like criminals and made to feel shame. Society
treats addiction like a moral failure," Tate said.
Powers-Ferris developed endocarditis as a result of her
extended drug abuse. The condition required open heart
surgery. Later, Tate had plans for her daughter to get back
into a recovery program.
Police found Powers-Ferris dead when conducting a
wellness check at her residence.
"She was gone and I had to bury my child," Tate said.
"The hole in my soul can never be filled."
Drug-testing policy a tool to prevent problems
Parents concerned about privacy, inclusiveness By Katherine Michalets -
Special to the Enterprise
Oct. 30, 2014
OCONOMOWOC — In an effort
to craft a random drug test policy for the Oconomowoc Area
School District that takes into consideration feedback from
the community, an informational meeting was held Monday
night at the high school.
A few dozen people attended the meeting and questions were
raised about privacy, supporting data, the exclusion of some
students and how positive and negative results would be
Pat and Pete Williams, who live right behind the high
school’s football field, raised four children and took in 11
foster children, as well as some of their own grandchildren,
so they are familiar with what it’s like to raise a
At the closing of the one-hour presentation and Q-and-A
meeting Monday, Pat Williams said “parents are the last to
know these kids have a problem.”
She encouraged parents to take any help they can get from
the district in monitoring their children.
Earlier in the evening, Williams expressed concern about
some students who she called “underachievers” being excluded
from the drug testing, “I’d like to see them all get a
chance of getting tested,” she said. “Why are you only
targeting the overachievers?”
The proposed policy would affect intermediate and high
school students. As a result of rights guaranteed in the
Constitution, only students participating in a voluntary
sport or co-curricular activity or who exercise the
privilege of parking a motor vehicle in the district parking
lot during the school day can be randomly tested. Substances
that will be tested for by a contracted third party would
include marijuana and opiates such as heroin, oxycodone,
ecstasy, methadone, barbiturates and methamphetamines.
The testing of students will occur on a random basis and
students will be selected by a number assigned to them. The
student services director will supervise the selection of
student numbers for testing and a computerbased system
designed specifically for the purpose of randomly selecting
students will be utilized.
Jessica Karnowski has children in fifth and fourth grades
and 4K and expressed concern about whether drug testing
deters drug use. She wanted to know what else the district
is doing to prevent drug use among students.
She also felt that parents should get the final say about
whether a child, especially for those as young as seventh
grade, is tested and called the district’s proposed policy a
Lisa Dawes, director of student services, said there was
delicate discussion of whether to include seventh- and
eighth-graders in the drug testing, but the district has
heard from students that there is use of drugs at that age.
“We don’t always know,” Dawes said, referring to being a
parent of a child. “Our goal is to help parents know before
it becomes a problem.”
OHS counselor Scott Bakkum said the district has used many
presentations and resources to help inform students about
dangers to help prevent problems from occurring, such as the
Stairway to Heroin events and Your Choice.
He suggested not looking at the drug testing as being
punitive, but rather as a tool.
“We are in a different place than we were a few years ago,”
Students were surveyed as part of the Stairway to Heroin
program and he said the results were scary.
In order to create the draft policy, which would need to be
approved by the School Board before being implemented,
policies from area districts, including Muskego, Pewaukee
and Arrowhead, were reviewed. The school district has also
met with parent groups and clubs to gather feedback.
The next step will be for the policy to be reviewed by the
curriculum committee and then will go to the full School
Board likely in January, Dawes said. If approved, the
district would have the rest of the school year to figure
out logistics and then implement the policy for the
2015-2016 school year.
“(The policy) is meant to be preventative and to give kids a
powerful reason to say no,” Dawes said.
Frequently asked questions about
the OASD drug-testing policy:
How often will screenings take place?
Students become eligible for random drug testing on the
first day they participate in practice, an activity or
performance associated with a sport or extracurricular
activity or request a parking permit.
What will the drug test entail?
Random urine tests will be conducted by a drug screen
technician as a contracted outside agency of the district.
The drug screen will be conducted on site in a designated
private restroom. The agency will supervise the test;
however, will not provide direct observation while the
sample is being submitted.
What are the consequences of a positive drug test? No
student shall be expelled or suspended from school as a sole
result of any verified positive test conducted by the school
under this program. However, students with a verified
positive test under this program will be subject to the
conditions set forth in the athletics/activities code.
Student drug-testing information will not be turned over to
any law enforcement authorities except under circumstances
in which the district is legally compelled to surrender or
disclose such test results.
How will the results be shared and kept private? Who will
see the results? Testing results will be kept in a
confidential file separate from the student’s other
educational records. Results will only be disclosed to the
administration personnel who have a need to be informed in
order to implement or oversee implementation of the policy
or consequences for violating the policy.
What is a student refuses to take a drug test? Will the
refusal be construed as a drug-positive result?
The student will remain ineligible and parking
privileges will be revoked until the student is tested.
How can a student contest the results of a positive drug
test? Will a second confirming test be done? Students
will have an opportunity within 48 hours of notification of
the first positive test result to have the split samples
tested at the family’s expense.