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Avoiding the ‘tangle’of the courts
Program offers new options for addicts who commit crimes

By Denise Seyfer - News Graphic Staff 

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 education.

“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 is.”

Halula added that TAD has a three-year recidivism rate of 17 percent and every $1 invested in TAD yields $1.96.

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 summary said.

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 Corrections.

“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.

Denise Seyfer can be reached at .

Area police clock big heroin increases from 2013 to 2014
New Berlin’s heroin arrests almost doubled
By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff
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 2013.

“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 one arrest.”

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.



Meth making mark in county
Lab discovered in area last year
By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff
Jan. 21, 2015

WAUKESHA — 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 years.

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 to Kopatich.

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 one-pot ones.”

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 extremely volatile.

“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 control’

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
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 problem.”

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 that.”

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,” Schmidt said.

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 elsewhere.”

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 said.

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 lessons.

“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 Department.

Drug education for parents
School District hosts workshop
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 at
Badger Middle School in West Bend.      

John Ehlke/Daily News

On Wednesday 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 Department.

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 needle.”

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 combative behavior.”

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.

For more information, visit

Schimel to drug dealers: ‘You are public enemy
No. 1’
Waukesha County’s district attorney since 2006 sworn in as attorney general
By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff
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 general.

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 are determined.

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 of drugs.”

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.

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 and
Mackenzie and wife Sandi.     

Associated Press

Schimel also 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 Streets safer.”

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.     
Associated Press

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.”



Sober housing considered for Ozaukee County
Home would create drug, alcohol-free environment for recovery 

By Denise Seyfer - News Graphic Staff
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.

Under 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 rehabilitation center.

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.

For more information on how to help, call 375-1110 or visit

Denise Seyfer can be reached at .

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 told.

That’s changing.

Research has shown that drug addiction alters brain structure until it becomes an uncontrollable compulsive behavior.

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 addicts.

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 addiction.”
Online video
■ Recovering heroin addicts tell their stories on video at

“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 Rise Together.

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 heroin addicts.

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, her salvation.

“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 addicts.

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 vacation.

“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 School.

“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

“That 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 numb.

“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 drug.”

“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.”

Len 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 throughout Wisconsin.

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 opiates.

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 The Post 
Dec. 2, 2014

Martine 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 using heroin,"

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 Vliet Street.

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 region.

"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 said.

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 the pain.

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 family’s home.

"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," Daugherty said.

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 2005.

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."


District: 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 handled.

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 teenager.

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 “bullying tactic.”

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,” Bakkum said.

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.

Source: Oconomowoc Area School District



‘The devil is in our town’
Stairway to Heroin II hits home with recollections of those lost to addiction, message of hope to those struggling
By Josh Perttunen - Enterprise Staff 
Oct. 16, 2014

OCONOMOWOC — Candid discussion silenced a crowd of more than 800 people Tuesday evening, when community members heard firsthand how heroin has devastated the lives of their friends and neighbors in Lake Country.

The Stairway to Heroin II presentation at the Oconomowoc Arts Center included stories of loved ones lost to addiction, journeys back from the brink, law enforcement’s perspective and the medical community’s input into the problem.

Oconomowoc High School senior Augie Badura, 17, shares his story at the Stairway to Heroin II presentation. His older brother Archie Badura, 19, overdosed on heroin in May. 
Josh Perttunen/Freeman Staff

A parent’s worst nightmare

Jody Medinger warned the audience that what she had to say was a parent’s worst nightmare.

She woke up from a nap on Jan. 4, went downstairs and found her daughter Samantha, 24, dead on the living room couch. Her daughter, she said, was a high-honor student who had been raised with a drug-free philosophy.

“There is a misconception that this only happens in bad families, in poor families, in families who don’t care,” Medinger said. “That’s not true. This disease does not discriminate. Samantha was known as the kid who didn’t do drugs. I knew all her friends and I knew all her friends’ parents.”

But the seed for addiction was planted when Samantha was prescribed opiate painkillers after surgery on her wisdom tooth.

“My good, smart, kid made one stupid, boneheaded decision,” Medinger said. “She chopped up a pill and snorted it and she — these are her words — ‘fell in love.’” Medinger said Samantha would struggle with heroin and opiate addiction for six years.

“Unbeknownst to myself, her father, her boyfriend, her doctor and her family, she had started using again,” Medinger said of that fateful day. “She had decided to take a shot before she went out for the evening with her boyfriend. Samantha did not intend to die that day; she intended to go out to dinner with her boyfriend.”

Speaking to a hushed audience, Medinger said her heartbreak proves that addiction can claim anyone.

“Samantha was gorgeous, sassy, gutsy, intelligent, funny and a wildly creative artist,” she said. “Heroin took it all, every last bit of Samantha, then it took her life.”

“I grew up in this town and my daughter grew up in this town. And the devil is in this town. The devil’s name is heroin.”

Chris Gleason, director of Rosecrance McHenry County, talks about his road to recovery, emphasizing that recovering addicts need hope and a strong sense of what they are good at to stave off addiction.  
Josh Perttunen/Freeman Staff

The discussion

Though painful to hear, stories like Medinger’s drive home the point that heroin is a very real problem among the community’s youths, said Oconomowoc High School Principal Joseph Moylan. “If we shy away from this discussion as a community, we are putting kids at risk,” he said.

Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel also did his best to put things in perspective.

He said he has met too many families who are still struggling to comprehend how this addiction sunk its claws into their child. They’ve slid report cards across the table, marked with all A’s — or produced photographs of their child in a Boy Scout or team uniform.

“They wanted to convince me that their child wasn’t a bad child.” Schimel said. “Out of all of these parents who’ve experienced these tragedies, I’ve yet to meet the one where their child was the ‘bad’ child.”

Schimel also shared figures that highlight the epidemic.

Wisconsin has seen the number of opiate-related deaths per year nearly quadruple from 2000 to 2011, he said, jumping from 2.19 per 100,000 to 8.08 per 100,000. The number of visits to hospitals for heroin and opiate overdoses has also quadrupled. Using Narcan, EMS and hospital personnel — along with heroin users themselves — have brought more than 5,000 people who’ve overdosed back from the brink of death this year.

Additionally, Waukesha County has submitted the second-highest amount of heroin to the state crime lab, which Schimel attributes to both the prevalence of the drug and the county’s aggressive policy to thwart it. Another telling figure, he said, is that needle exchanges in the southeastern Wisconsin region have jumped from 170,000 needles exchanged in 2008 to more than 700,000 in 2012.

“Every way you measure this, we’re in trouble,” Schimel said, noting that figures like traffic deaths have fluctuated from year to year, while the amount heroin deaths has not stopped climbing.

“If we saw traffic deaths going up and up and up like this, what would be prepared to do about it?” he asked. “I think we’d do crazy things. Like putting a roundabout every 200 feet.”

Gains are being made using options like the drug treatment court, Schimel said, but stemming the tide of addiction will require continued funding and potentially drastic measures.

“Are we making progress? Yes. But we are driving a Model A and the problem just blew by us in a red Ferrari.”

High school seniors share their stories

A trio of high school seniors shared their experiences with the devastation heroin can cause. Augie Badura and Emma Pond spoke of the brothers they lost to addiction, while Ashley Herbst spoke of how she battled back from the brink.

Augie, 17, said he lost his older brother Archie, 19, in May. Archie, he said, was extensively involved with the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Nashotah and beloved by the parishioners there.

“We thought he might someday grow up to work at the church,” Augie said. “Not be dead at 19 years old.”

After a childhood filled with fun, friends and laughter, Augie said his brother started smoking marijuana in high school, rationalizing that it was the best cure for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Efforts to send him to boot camp could not halt his developing addictions, Augie said.

With the assistance of counselors and other school staff, Archie was able to graduate in 2013 — a milestone that meant a lot to him and his family.

But, Augie said his family could see him slipping away after that.

“He turned down great schools and job opportunities,” he said. When Archie started using opiates and told his brother, Augie said that he thought it was just a phase and didn’t tell his parents. When Archie confided later that he had used heroin for the first time, he told his brother he would never do it again. In retrospect, Augie said he should have sidestepped all of those assurances and rationalizations to get him the support he needed.

Senior Emma Pond shared memories of her brother Daniel juggling, doing the “Carlton” dance from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and making people laugh in any situation. He became addicted to pain pills after he received them during recovery from a torn ACL, she said.

Senior Ashley Herbst shared her story as a recovering addict, who was able to battle back from the brink after her secret use of heroin was discovered by Milwaukee Police on Jan. 1.

She had been at the point, she said, where she was using all of her money on drugs and “wasn’t using to feel high anymore, but to feel normal.”

Herbst will be nine months sober this month.

Pre-emptive measures

Moylan offered measures he believes can help combat these addictions before they begin.

First, he said, students must realize that they’re not invulnerable, a phenomenon he called the Superman myth.

“They believe ‘it can’t happen to me, I’m invincible, I can quit whenever I want,’” he said. “So you drink a little beer, you smoke a little pot; it’s no big deal, everybody does it. But, no heroin addict ever started by using heroin.”

Parents bear a responsibility, he added, and some must ditch preconceptions about their own behaviors.

“They believe things like ‘I did it when I was younger, so it can’t be that bad,’ or ‘If I take the keys and nobody drives, it’s OK to have a drink at my house.’ These messages to our children reinforce the need for our kids to use to feel better,” he said. “It starts them on a path we may not see them return from. We need to end the adult participation in the cycle.”

Moylan also suggested parents and other adults make use of the prescription drop-off at the police station.

“You have to know what a gift having a drop-off in the community is,” he said, noting that pills can’t just be returned to the pharmacy. “You have an opportunity to get those drugs now out of your house when you’re not using them and nobody will get into your personal supply.”

‘There is a face and a name to it’

Adding student and family testimonials to the program has made it a more powerful presentation, Moylan said, adding that the program was presented to students at the high school and middle school earlier on Tuesday.

“It makes it more real for the kids,” he said. “There is a face and a name to it. These are kids that they see every day, that they like, that are popular. It’s heroism for them to stand in front of the peers and share their story.”



Flames held high at Badura prayer vigil

NASHOTAH — A brief candlelight prayer vigil for Archie Badura, held at the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Nashotah, immediately followed the Stairway to Heroin II presentation on Tuesday evening.

Augie Badura, center, and parents Andy and Lauri are overcome with emotion Tuesday evening at the prayer vigil for Archie Badura, who died of a heroin overdose May 15. The vigil was held at the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Nashotah.   
Josh Perttunen/Freeman Staff

Those in attendance held their candles high and slowly cycled through the church as the young man was fondly remembered — and light was shed on the addiction he and others have dealt with, or will deal with.

Members of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church raise their candles Tuesday evening as “This Little Light of Mine' is performed as part of a prayer vigil for Archie Badura.    
Josh Perttunen/Freeman Staff

People were invited to bring a picture of a loved one that has been lost to addiction, suicide or mental illness to place on Archie’s memorial, or to bring along someone who is in recovery from addiction.

— Enterprise Staff


A closer look at random drug policies in other districts
Pewaukee has had policy in place for 10 years, Arrowhead for 8
By Josh Perttunen - Enterprise Staff 
Oct. 9, 2014

OCONOMOWOC — As the Oconomowoc Area School District fine-tunes a random drug-testing policy to bring before district parents and its school board, the architects of that plan say they are aware that other schools in the county have approved similar policies.

The policy being mulled in Oconomowoc would require students to comply with random drug tests as a condition of participation in any school athletics, clubs or organizations. Testing could extend to other school-related privileges, such as the ownership of a parking pass, as well.

“The impetus for this policy stems from the students we lost last year due to drug use,” said Lisa Dawes, the district’s director of student services and special education.

Pewaukee policy has been in place for decade

Pewaukee High School’s random drug testing policy has been in place for a decade now.

PHS Principal Marty Van Hulle remembered when the district started discussing the policy in February 2003. The school board had charged administration with the task of surveying the community to gauge what steps they wanted the district to take.

“We were just trying to deter students from using drugs,” Van Hulle said. “There was no watershed moment, we were trying to be proactive.”

The policy applies to any club or group that has an adviser or coach. It applies to approximately 75 percent of the student body, Van Hulle estimated.

OHS Athletic Director Scott Raduka said linking random drug tests to the combination of privileges proposed in his district could affect an estimated 1,043 students, which affects approximately 70 percent of the student body. Currently, no OASD students are tested.

The first time a student tests positive for banned drugs in Pewaukee, no matter what type of drugs, he or she will miss 30 percent of the season, Van Hulle said. The second offense yields a 50 percent suspension and the third offense is a lifetime ban from participation. Results are not referred to law enforcement.

To date, Van Hulle said the policy had its desired impact and has not needed to be tweaked in the last 10 years.

“The key was that it had to be truly random and confidential,” he added. “The testing company generates a list of numbers, that we then match to the corresponding students. If a student is absent, they don’t take the test that day, but are on the list for next month.”

In the system used by PHS, even the dates are randomly generated. The whole testing and communication of results is handled by the professionals at the laboratory, Van Hulle said.

Extending the policy to include students’ parking privileges is something his district did not consider, he said, and he is not aware if that can be done.

“This policy took a lot of time, a lot of communication and a lot of involvement with students and parents,” Van Hulle said. “It’s not an overnight decision, to say the least.”

Now that it’s been implemented, Van Hulle said he’d recommend a similar policy for every school district.

“I don’t think that it’s ever a bad thing to try and deter kids from things that are unhealthy or illegal,” he said.

Confidentiality is key at Arrowhead High School

Arrowhead Union High School formulated its random drug test policy just two years after Pewaukee’s was put into place.

Superintendent Craig Jefson was just starting his tenure during its first year of implementation, but knew that the policy was riding a wave of community support.

“There was extensive surveying done of the community and parents,” he said. “They felt like it was everybody’s responsibility to deter students from drug use — including law enforcement, medical professionals and also the responsibility of community members and parents. They felt the school had to play a role and asked what we were going to do about it.”

Maintaining strict confidentiality and clear objectives have been crucial parts of the process, Jefson said. Random number generators generate numbers monthly, which correspond to 20 students tested per campus.

The results of those tests, administered by ProHealth Care professionals during the school year, are only shared with Jefson as yearend figures, he said, and the assistant principals are the only ones who know individual results.

“It’s as confidential as possible,” he added. “We didn’t want to become Big Brother, we didn’t want to be punitive. We just wanted to give students another reason to say ‘no.’ If we’re the excuse that they need, let us be that excuse.”

The district didn’t want anything else to muddy the objective when crafting the policy, Jefson said. Linking the testing to parking passes was debated, but ultimately the district didn’t want to go that route and was uncertain if it was legally permissable.

Jefson estimated 60 percent of the student body is involved in athletics, 30 percent in music and 35 percent in other activities. The cumulative cost for testing is $12,000 to $15,000, which is picked up by the school district. With that level of investment, Jefson said it is important to focus on results.

“Though we don’t have many tests come back positive — and most of those are for nicotine — the assistant principals feel strongly that this policy is a deterrent,” he said. “To back that up, there have been student surveys and anecdotal conversations with students where they cite it as a deterrent.”

There must be vigilance in being aware of unintended consequences, Jefson said.

“A kid who tests positive could continue using chemicals and decide to quit the activity where he or she was doing positive things,” he said. “This would be counterproductive. Coaches have to help students who may be reactionary to realize that we are offering help.”

And the parents still play the most important role, he added.

What will Oconomowoc do?

Whether to implement the policy in the Oconomowoc district — which would apply from seventh grade on up — is a decision that the school board will discuss and make a decision on over the course of the next few months. Board President Don Wiemer said this topic was visited nearly 10 years ago and tabled because of concerns, such as how the district would deal with false positives.

Some of those concerns have been addressed since then, with input from the district administrative team, alcohol and other drug abuse coordinator, high school principal, athletic director and the district’s AODA committee.

A parent information night, where residents will be empowered to ask questions on the proposed policy, is being held at the Oconomowoc Arts Center at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27.


Community U to tackle area drug problem
Oct. 1, 2014

The growing problem of illegal drugs, especially heroin, is a community issue that Hartford Rotary’s new president, Police Chief David Groves, hopes the club and the community can address together and see results.

Part of that effort includes a program called Hartford Community U at Hartford Union High School at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

“I looked around and thought about what things we (the Rotary) would like to address as a pressing issue,” Groves said. “It’s our goal to share hope with the many members of our community dealing with the issue of illegal drug use.”

The free community-wide forum will feature presenters from the perspectives of education, advocacy, prevention and law enforcement. There will also be presentations from family members and former addicts regarding the impact these issues are having on lives.

“Narcotic abuse and addiction has become an epidemic in our society,” Groves said. “The Hartford Rotary Club believes that an informed community is a safer community.”

Groves said the drug problem affects the community in ways that aren’t easily seen.

Groves said his department has been dealing with local human resource departments.

“Some have confided in us that even when they tell people about an upcoming drug test, still one in four don’t pass,” Groves said. “So this is not a small thing.”

Groves said Washington County in 2012, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, was one of the seven counties in the state that submitted 30 or more heroin cases to the state crime lab.

“That same year the county was also in the top 11 for heroin overdoses,” Groves said.

Al Davies, EMS coordinator at Aurora Medical Center in Hartford, has worked to train local police officers and emergency personnel how to administer Narcan, a drug used to revive people who have overdosed on heroin.

“There’s been a serious increase in the volume of people we see who have used it,” Davies said. “There’s been a marked rise this year from last year. I know Narcan has been used on several occasions by emergency personnel around here.”

Groves said many robberies and other crimes committed in Hartford and the area are related to people needing money to purchase illegal drugs.


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