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Overdose homicide charges countywide top 2015 total
More in last five months than all of last year
By Matt Masterson - Enterprise Staff
May 26, 2016

WAUKESHA — A Milwaukee man facing decades in prison for his alleged role in the overdose death of a local mother has become the eighth person in Waukesha County this year charged under the state’s Len Bias homicide law — topping last year’s total of five such charges.

Derek J. Engberg, 25, was charged Friday with first-degree reckless homicide, as a party to a crime, in the death of 49-year-old Julie Bernal, who overdosed on heroin that had allegedly been provided to her by Engberg late last year.

He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

According to the criminal complaint, Waukesha Police were called to a Bluemound Road home on Dec. 30.

Engberg said he and Bernal had each snorted a line of heroin that Bernal had brought to his apartment earlier that evening. But according to the complaint, investigators learned Engberg had actually bought two grams of heroin earlier that day from a dealer in Milwaukee, and he and Bernal had injected themselves with the drugs before returning to Engberg’s apartment.

He allegedly told police he had fallen asleep in the apartment and awoke to hear Bernal snoring before falling back asleep. He then awoke again to find Bernal foaming from the mouth and unresponsive, which is when he called 911.

The complaint states there was “a pile” of heroin on the table in his apartment, and that Bernal may have used between .2 and .3 grams.

Engberg is due in court for a hearing June 24.

A continuing crisis

Wisconsin’s Len Bias law allows prosecutors to file reckless homicide charges against any suspect who manufactures, delivers or distributes a controlled substance that directly contributes to a victim’s death.

The law is named after Bias, an All-American basketball player at Maryland who died of a drug overdose two days after he was selected by the Boston Celtics as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft.

Engberg’s charges mark the fourth count of first-degree reckless homicide charged in Waukesha County just this month and the fifth such case filed within the last several weeks.

Those cases include:

April 26 — David R. Gier, 26, who was charged after he allegedly left his friend, 26-year-old Gaige A. Judkins, unconscious in the back of a vehicle parked at a Wales Pick ’n Save last July. Judkins was pronounced dead on scene.

May 9 — Mitchell A. Dlapa, 29, who was charged with being a party to a crime in the death of 22year-old Clarissa Krauss, who was found unconscious in a Brookfield parking lot in Nov. 2014. She was pronounced dead four days later.

May 16 — Edward L. Ludwig, 33, and Todd L. Krull, 28, who were each charged with first-degree reckless homicide stemming from the death of 28year-old Nicholas Gilbart, who had been out of jail for just days before overdosing last May.

According to Waukesha County Criminal & Traffic Division staff, this year’s total of eight first-degree reckless homicide cases has already topped 2015’s total of five.

Of those, only one case has yet been closed — that of 23-year-old Allyson Edwards, who pleaded no contest to reduced charges of narcotics possession and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

She was sentenced last week to a year-and-a-half in prison to be served consecutive to a stayed sentence of three years.

Ludwig appeared in court Friday and was held on $10,000 cash bond.

Increased deaths prompt Sensenbrenner’s Opioid Abuse Reduction Act

According to data from the State Council on Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, more than 800 overdose deaths occurred in Wisconsin last year — twice the number of such deaths in 2004.

Drug overdose deaths statewide have increased 137 percent from 2010, with opioid related deaths increasing by 200 percent, according to U.S. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, whose Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act was approved this month by the U.S House of Representatives.

“It signals the seriousness of our national struggle with addiction, the need for immediate action, and the commitment of lawmakers to pass meaningful, bipartisan legislation,” Sensenbrenner said in a statement. “I’m optimistic about the future of this bill and the good it will affect throughout the country.”

The bill creates an opioid abuse reduction program at the Department of Justice to provide training and resources for first responders and law enforcement, aid in criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids, and expand drug courts.

As part of the ongoing heroin epidemic, drugs entering the U.S. today are significantly higher in purity and lower in price than it was in the past, according to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

Johnson cited data from from Wisconsin Attorney General and former Waukesha district attorney Brad Schimel, who has said heroin sold on the street has increased from five percent in purity to now between 20 and 80 percent.

Johnson held a hearing earlier this week to discuss how the U.S. has allocated its funds to fight the war on drugs.

“Over the course of the committee’s extensive work on this issue,” he said in a statement, “it also has become clear that America’s insatiable demand for drugs is the root cause of our insecure border.”


Failed drug tests challenge businesses
Area employers say it’s harder to hire ‘clean’ workers
By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff
May 24, 2016

OZAUKEE COUNTY — With the jobless rate in Ozaukee County among the lowest in Wisconsin, area employers say it’s difficult to find qualified employees who can pass a drug test.

The problem is not unique to the area. With changing attitudes toward marijuana and a widespread opiate epidemic, it’s an issue across the state and – for that matter – the nation.

“It’s currently a pretty tight labor market,” said Kathleen Cady Schilling, executive director of Ozaukee Economic Development. “It was a little easier four years ago. If someone failed a drug test, it was no big deal – there are plenty more out there. Now, it’s really becoming an issue.”

It’s also something, understandably, not all employers like to talk about.

“I think every employer wants to say their employees are top-notch,” Schilling said. “But we all have to fill positions – and sometimes the people who come aren’t the best.”

One employer did talk. Eric Isbister, CEO of GenMet Corp., said he knows finding quality employees who can pass a drug test is a concern. He added, however, he has had few issues because prospective employees who can’t pass know not to bother applying.

“We quite frankly don’t see it much in our data because we stress with people before they come in that we drug test,” said Isbister, whose metal fabrication business at 10245 N. Enterprise Drive in Mequon has job openings for engineers, machine operators and welders.

“If a company didn’t stress up-front, I think you’d have a lot of people (failing),” he said. “It’s a sad thing.”

Isbister added that GenMet invests a lot of resources in training its employees. He said he keeps an eye out for applicants who appear to change jobs often.

“The biggest reason for not moving forward is what we call a ‘hopper’ – a person who changes jobs so frequently that it looks like he’ll never be happy,” he said.

Carol Schneider, CEO of SEEK Careers/Staffing Inc., said the numbers of prospective employees failing pre-employment drug screens are significant.

“In the month of April, we did 191 tests and 20 did not pass,” she told the West Bend Daily News.

Schneider said most applicants failing tests are using marijuana or prescription painkillers.

“I know it’s an issue,” said Pam King, executive director of the Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce. She said she has heard managers of several area businesses with a regional or national footprint say they’ve had difficulty finding employees locally who can pass a drug test.

“Those employers who are looking to hire have challenges related to drug testing and our lack of transportation,” she said.

Public transportation is available from Milwaukee to several locations in southern Ozaukee County, but the bus stops are just off Interstate 43. Many potential employees have difficulty getting from there to the jobsite, King said.

“When you look at the size of the pool to draw from, that’s a huge challenge,” she said. “There isn’t a (big enough) pool here in the county and you have to draw from other places.”

In nearby Washington County, 85 percent of businesses have had issues filling entry-level positions because of applicants failing to pass drug testing, according to a report put together by the West Bend School District.

The information was gathered through a survey distributed by the school district to members of the West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce. It represented employers with a total workforce of about 5,500 employees, the West Bend Daily News reported.

The issue cuts across the nation. The New York Times recently ran a story that said the hurdle employers face is due to an increased reliance on drug-testing, as well as a changing culture, particularly in states that have legalized marijuana.

A roofing contractor in Colorado Springs, Colo., said, “to find a roofer or painter that can pass a drug test is unheard of,” the Times reported.

The same contractor said, “As soon as I say ‘criminal background check,’ ‘drug test,’ they’re out the door.”

While testing may be stronger and at least some people may think marijuana is not a big deal, OED’s Schilling said it remains a big deal.

“You just can’t have that in your blood system if you’re going to be working heavy machinery,” she said.

Alex Beld of the West Bend Daily News contributed to this story.


Giving Waukesha County H.O.P.E
Heroin/opiate prevention and education legislation discussed
By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff
May 18, 2016

WAUKESHA — In the crowded auditorium at Waukesha Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, people listened intently to a presentation on heroin/opiate prevention and education (H.O.P.E.) legislation and what it means for Waukesha County.

County Supervisor Larry Nelson said eight years ago when the heroin epidemic started there was a general feeling of denial.

“People said ‘This is Waukesha County, this is a problem in other parts of the state’, but it is a problem everywhere,” Nelson said.

 John Kettler of Waukesha County Health & Human Services talks about strategies for dealing with the effects of opiate addiction, from treatment to widening the availability of Narcan, during a presentation on the impact of H.O.P.E legislation held Tuesday at Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Three speakers discuss county’s anti-heroin measures

Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper discussed recent acts and bills which have been passed in the anti-heroin crusade. Some of the acts include requiring proper identification when picking up prescriptions to prevent fraud, as well as providing first responders and law enforcement with Narcan, which can possibly reverse a heroin overdose. Another bill is protecting those who seek help from the police or medical professionals in order to save the life of a person who overdosed.

Human Services Supervisor John Kettler spoke about what the county has been doing to address the opiate epidemic. He said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow declared this as a top priority and has been involved in different groups to discuss it. Law enforcement has received additional training and is working with other agencies. Health and Human Services is enhancing programs to address the epidemic. Kettler discussed the pillar approach such as providing education, harm reduction, law enforcement, workplace steps and treatment.

Kettler said some of the prevention activities included the “Hidden in Plain Sight” and “Stairway to Heroin” education series.

Harm reduction includes educating former inmates about overdoses after they are released and safer needle exchanges and naloxone training.

Law enforcement measures include drop boxes for prescription drugs, additional training and the use of nasal Narcan. For workplace steps, the county has incorporated additional public health education programs and partnerships with the Waukesha County Business Alliance.

Kettler said the treatment approach involves promoting 2-1-1 as a contact for referrals and he encourages providers to update their information. Also involved are promotional events for insurance enrollment and a partnership with Thriving Waukesha to help decrease treatment barriers. ProHealth Care Manager for Behavioral Health Services O. Kirk Yauchler presented on how the private sector is working on the heroin epidemic. He said a study estimated that up to 30 percent of the opioids prescribed for pain are misused and that about 10 percent of pain patients are addicted to them.

“It is very profound,” he said.

Yauchler touched on the act that requires practitioners to review a patient’s record when initially prescribing a monitored prescription drug. The information in the record tells a doctor when a drug was prescribed, how many times it was refilled and when, and who prescribed the medicine. The additional information helps physicians to see if there are red flags. Additional training has been implemented to encourage responsible prescribing.

Strong turnout

Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson said the event gave people a good idea of what the legislation looks like and reminded the county that everyone has a stake in solving the drug issue.

Nelson felt the great turnout for the presentation proved that people want to be a part of the heroin solution. “We have a lot of people from all walks of life trying to help deal with this epidemic; the sad thing is the number of overdoses and usage,” Nelson said.

House passes Sensenbrenner’s anti-opioid abuse bill
May 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act of 2016 (COARA), legislation introduced by Wisconsin U.S. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.

The bill creates a comprehensive opioid abuse reduction program at the Department of Justice, which would, among other things, provide vital training and resources for first responders and law enforcement, aid in criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids, and expand drug courts.

Additionally, the comprehensive grant program created by H.R. 5046 is fully offset, meaning it successfully directs funds to address the opioid epidemic by taking advantage of existing funding. The result is no net increase in spending authorizations and no additional burden on the American Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act is another important step forward in our fight against heroin and opioid addiction,” said Sensenbrenner. “It signals the seriousness of our national struggle with addiction, the need for immediate action, and the commitment of lawmakers to pass meaningful, bipartisan legislation.”

Addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and other prescription pain medicines has erupted in the United States. Between 435,000 and 1.5 million people in the U.S. currently use heroin, and an alarming number of them are younger than 25 years old.

Between 2002 and 2013, national heroin deaths nearly quadrupled, reaching more than 8,000 annually by 2013. Beyond health care costs, other significant economic burdens are associated with opioid abuse, such as costs related to criminal justice and lost workplace productivity. In total, opioid abuse imposes an estimated $55 billion in societal costs annually.

In Wisconsin, more than 800 overdose deaths occurred in 2015 — double the number of deaths from overdose in 2004.

Local doc combats heroin epidemic
Dr. Timothy Westlake taking his ideas to halls of power
By Ryan Billingham - Enterprise Staff
April 28, 2016

OCONOMOWOC — Emergency room doctors know intimately the tragic consequences of opioid addiction and overdoses.

In Wisconsin, state crime lab cases involving heroin increased 419 percent from 2008 to 2014, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Dr. Timothy Westlake, vice chair of the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board and an emergency room doctor at ProHealth Care’s Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, has been forced to bear witness to the damage inflicted on families and communities, including the one he serves.

Though his personal experiences as an ER doctor are wrought with emotion, Westlake is part of an effort to take a more pragmatic and practical approach to what he sees as a complex problem with several contributing factors — including the responsibility doctors have for the current situation and the “unintended consequences” of what he feels are bad regulatory practices.

Westlake, who lives in Delafield, recently took part in a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held April 15 at Waukesha County Technical College.

At the hearing Westlake provided testimony to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and member Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

“In my practice as an emergency physician in a small suburban hospital it is not uncommon for me to see one or more opioid overdoses per week, and of the 20 or so patients I see per day, usually three to four are on chronic opioid medications,” he said to the committee.

He called opioid addiction and overdoses “the public health crisis of our time.”

Policy solution ideas

Westlake became involved in policymaking about five years ago when he served on the board of oversight for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a warehouse of information on the prescribing of drugs.

From there he was tapped to help formulate an opioid strategy after getting to know Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, with whom he helped establish the Wisconsin State Coalition for Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction along with Attorney General — and former Waukesha County District Attorney — Brad Schimel.

Westlake said while doctors must be more vigilant in their prescribing practices, there are two crucial elements at the policy level he believes would affect positive change.

The first, he said, is patient survey results being factored into Medicare incentive payments to hospitals.

Westlake said caregivers must now consider patient survey results and cater to them to ensure they meet Medicare reimbursement requirements.

This, Westlake said, causes an undue focus on a patient’s pain experience and often increases the subjective nature of it, leading to overprescribing of pain medications.

He said he supports recent legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate — called the Promoting Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) Act — by Sen. Ron Johnson and others to remove the pain management questions on the survey, and untether the results from Medicare reimbursements.

“Right now,” Westlake said, “It’s like having a tiny government regulator on your shoulder each time you make a decision.”

Westlake said in the 1990s a focus on pain as “the fifth vital sign” led to the overprescribing of opioids. He said the standards are out of date and have had too many dangerous consequences.

“As a doctor you want to alleviate suffering, but you don’t want to cause more suffering through the way you prescribe,” Westlake said.

The second key factor is reducing the “leftover medications.” He said there are approximately 9 billion individual Vicodin (a drug containing acetaminophen and hydrocodone, an opioid) pills prescribed in America each year. He said it is estimated one-third to two-thirds of these pills go unused, which leaves billions of pills in homes “just waiting to be misused.”

Currently, federal regulations bar doctors from prescribing a refill for a Schedule II narcotic, Westlake said. Instead a physical prescription must be taken to a pharmacy and cannot be phoned in or faxed in.

Westlake said this leads to doctors prescribing too many pills, rather than too few pills.

“By prescribing a larger amount in this way, the patient and the doctor aren’t likely to be inconvenienced by having to get a physical prescription refill,” he said in his Senate committee testimony. “But, this almost always ensures there will be leftover opiate pills, in many cases in significant numbers.”

A tweak to the federal regulations could fix the problem and allow doctors to prescribe a smaller, time-limited supply of pain medications, he said.

Westlake said it is important to anticipate unintended consequences and build sound policy at the state and federal levels before it is made law.

“Once something is law, it is very difficult to change,” he said.


Heroin Task Force offers a drug prevention guide for families
News Graphic Staff
April 21, 2016

OZAUKEE COUNTY — A drug prevention guide for families is available for download on the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force website. More than 6.5 million people 12 and older are reported to have abused drugs last month alone and every day, 4,047 children and young adults start experimenting with prescription drugs.

The 28-page Prevention Awareness Toolkit provides local stories and experiences, the names of commonly abused prescription medications, health consequences of prescription medications, what to do if a family member is suspected of using drugs, how to recognize a relapse and much more.

A parents’ guide is also available families to review. The download also provides a coupon for a free home drug testing kit.

To download the guide, go to

State ponders drug monitoring
Proposal presented to Ozaukee Heroin Task Force
By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent
April 19, 2016

OZAUKEE COUNTY — Addicts are clever in the lengths they will go to obtain drugs. As secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services, as well as the former mayor of Superior, Dave Ross has certainly heard his share of stories from around the state.

“There was an instance where someone with an opiate addiction was going to rummage sales and asking if they could try on a pair of jeans,” he said as the presenter at the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force meeting April 11 . “What they were actually doing was cleaning out the bathroom of prescription drugs.”

He noted that real estate agents now also advise home sellers to pack up their medications prior to open houses and showings as those also present an opportunity for addicts to steal drugs.

Taking away those opportunities to fuel an addiction is also the purpose behind Wisconsin’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which was legislated as a program to improve patient care and reduce the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs in Wisconsin.

“Since July 2013, we’ve received about a million submissions a month and just passed 35 million submissions from dispensers of Schedule 2 through 5 drugs throughout the state,” he said.

By law, Wisconsin dispensers of monitored prescription drugs are required to collect and submit information to the PDMP about each dispensing of a monitored prescription drug. The PDMP stores the information in a secure database and makes it available to health care professionals and others, as authorized by law. All dispensers licensed in Wisconsin – including online pharmacists – are required to provide this information. Thirty percent of PDMP users are physicians. Forty-nine states currently have PDMP programs in place, and more than two dozen currently share information with each other. Ross noted that this data sharing is likely to increase over time, as it can prove helpful in identifying prescription abuse for addicts living near state lines. “Prior to sharing this data through PDMPs, there really was no way to identify if someone was ‘doctor shopping’ over a state boundary,” said Ross. “Doctor shopping was really quite easy. That window is closing and will continue to close even further.”

At the meeting, Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol asked Ross if there was a plan to flag unusual prescription patterns in Wisconsin’s PDMP.

“That is possible right now,” said Ross, who gave an example of an addict who was able to obtain about

500 methadone doses a month through doctor shopping. “We are able to identify up to four-plus doctors, which indicates that there is a prescription problem.”

Ross noted that there are some tweaks and improvements being implemented in the PDMP, including a requirement that law enforcement personnel report information under certain conditions and shortening the requirement for dispensers to provide information from seven days to 24 hours.

Ross noted that the use of prescription drugs in Wisconsin, as well as throughout the country, is significant.

“We’re prescribed 80 percent of the (world’s) prescriptions for pain narcotics in the United States, but we only have 4.25 percent of the world’s population,” he noted.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, individual pharmacies and dispensing practitioners throughout the state dispensed enough doses of monitored prescription drugs to medicate the entire population of Wisconsin for a month.

Heroin’s horrors: Johnson, Baldwin hold hearing at WCTC about opioid epidemic  
By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff
April 16, 2016

PEWAUKEE — Heroin addiction is a no-holds-barred addiction that can strike anyone. Wisconsin U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin held a field hearing about the heroin epidemic on Friday at Waukesha County Technical College. Two panels of witnesses testified, ranging from several government officials to a recovering addict and his sister and a mother who lost her son to the drug.

Wisconsin U.S. Senators Ron Johnson, left, and Tammy Baldwin preside over a public hearing about the problem of heroin held Friday at Waukesha County Technical College.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Johnson’s message was the need to “lay out reality” about the cause of the heroin epidemic, which is Americans’ “insatiable demand” for drugs, he said. Johnson himself has been touched by the heroin and opioid epidemic; he noted that his nephew died from an overdose recently. “Heroin leads to broken families and broken lives,” he said.

Available and affordable

According to Johnson, the United States’ borders are not secure and heroin is readily available. One factor, he said, is the United States intercepts less than 10 percent of illegal drugs coming across the southwest border and somewhere between 11-18 percent coming through our maritime borders. In order to address this aspect of the problem, he said, we need to secure our borders.

Compounding the problem is another factor — heroin is quite affordable.

“In Wisconsin, one hit of heroin costs anywhere from $10 to $12 in Milwaukee,” said Johnson.

The easy access to and low cost of the drug have led to terrible consequences, he said.

“In Milwaukee, 109 heroin-related deaths in 2015,” said Johnson.

No one immune

Baldwin said it doesn’t matter what your social standing, political party or background is when it comes to heroin and opioid abuse. It also doesn’t fit neatly into one jurisdiction or area. She pointed out a drug supplier isn’t necessarily a drug cartel, but could be a medicine cabinet containing unused pills. A supplier could be a well-meaning medical professional who over-prescribed opioid painkillers.

The sad fact is in 2014, 28,000 people died from prescription or illegal opioid use, Baldwin said.

“There is a stigma attached to (addiction), making it difficult for people to come forward,” she said.

Dr. Timothy Westlake, an emergency medicine physician at Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, talks about the number of heroin overdose cases he has treated during a public hearing at Waukesha County Technical College on Friday.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Schimel: ‘We need all hands on deck’

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said that not only does addiction wreck lives — it also devastates the economy. Employers more and more need to address addiction, he said.

Schimel also discussed the need for better procedures for people who are released from jail or a treatment facility. “This is when it is most dangerous,” he said. After being released back into society, drug addicts’ tolerance is lowered, yet they sometimes try to use at the same level they were at before being incarcerated, he said.

When he was district attorney in Waukesha County, Schimel said, he witnessed many parents burying their children. He admitted he still gets teary-eyed talking about it.

To combat the epidemic, Schimel said, “We need all hands on deck, we can’t do it alone.”

Addicts and families

Tyler Lybert and his sister Ashleigh Nowakowski testified about the struggles of families and addicts. Lybert is a recovering addict, having been clean for seven years. His addiction manifested in 6th grade when he was introduced to alcohol and drugs by older people. “I was a chubby and hyper kid,” he said. Lybert thought alcohol was his “golden ticket” to popularity. The drinking led to pot in 7th grade and by 16 years old he was taking pills and eventually heroin. The addiction took hold and soon all he cared about was getting high. “I worked all day but looked for drugs all night,” Lybert said.

Ashleigh Nowakowski wipes away tears after testifying about the impact heroin addiction has had on her family during a U.S. Senate public hearing on heroin held Friday at Waukesha County Technical College. Nowakowski’s brother, Tyler Lybert, left, also testified about his experiences as an addict and in recovery.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

He said he became less like himself and more like a “monster.” He had several brushes with the law and was incarcerated a few times. Every morning he was terrified to wake up, afraid of what had transpired the night before while he was drugged.

Eventually, he said, he grew discouraged after a few treatment attempts and gave up on ever being fully clean.

“I hated life, I wanted to die,” he said. He possessed a knife and at one point was contemplating suicide.

Eventually, Lybert was kicked out of his home and was given an ultimatum. “My mom called and said I could keep doing what I was doing but they no longer had a son,” he said.

Lybert’s other option was to come home and try another form of treatment. Though family counseling, he discovered he did want to live.

Through tears, Nowakowski described the hellish journey the family went through. She choked up while talking about planning her wedding and wondering if people would ask why a groomsman was missing from the wedding party. At one point her mother even planned Lybert’s funeral. Through family therapy, however, they fixed the dynamics and slowly the wounds started to heal.

Still, Nowakowsi said, “We have survivor’s guilt. There are so many families who didn’t get to experience what it is like to have someone recover.”

A mother’s story

Lauri Badura testified about her son Archie Badura, who died of an overdose in 2014. Her gripping words painted a picture of a grieving mother who is trying to save others.

Lauri Badura holds up a photo of her son, Archie, who died of an overdose in 2014 during a public hearing on Friday at Waukesha County Technical College.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

She attended a funeral over the weekend of a close friend of Archie Badura. The friend, who also died of an overdose, had been a pallbearer at Archie’s funeral, she said.

Badura now gets referrals from hospitals, psychiatrists and funeral homes to help other parents. Her telephone rings and she hears stories similar to her own.

Badura said like diabetes, drug addiction should receive lifelong treatment. It is her mission to not let her son’s death be in vain, she said.


‘We’ve got to stop what is happening’ 
Heroin use focus of ‘Wake-Up Call’ exhibit
By Dave Fidlin - Special to the Enterprise
April 14, 2016

HARTLAND —The spike in heroin use, and its ravaging effects on the suburban youth population, has been chronicled extensively across southeastern Wisconsin in recent years.

Sandi Lybert is hoping to take that critical message to the next level with an interactive event that runs through April 23.

Lybert, who runs an organization known as Your Choice with other family members, knows firsthand how dangerous heroin and other drugs are, and how they are popping up in places least expected — including teenagers’ bedrooms.

Lybert speaks from experience. Her son, Tyler Lybert, is a recovering heroin addict. He has spoken openly of his addiction and what lengths he went to feed his constant craving for the next high.

In the years he was using heroin, Tyler used unorthodox methods to conceal his stash of drugs, and Lybert adamantly points out it occurred without her or her husband knowing it was taking place.

But there were odd clues, here or there. Spoons, for example, were disappearing at a rapid clip from the family’s utensil drawer. When they mysteriously reappeared, they were frequently bent. As part of the interactive event, which has been dubbed “Wake-Up Call,” Lybert wants to take visitors straight into a makeshift bedroom. In fact, every last detail closely mimics Tyler’s bedroom when he was using heroin.

Several Lake Country-based organizations are partnering with the Lybert family’s Your Choice to make the “Wake-Up Call” exhibit possible. The list includes the Kettle Moraine Parent Resource Network, Oconomowoc Parent Education Network and Waukesha County Drug Free Communities.

Many of the most granular details within the makeshift bedroom are puzzle pieces that point to a heroin user. A looped belt on the floor is used as a tourniquet. The scattering of straws are used to snort the drug. The presence of crumpled-up tin foil points to burning the drug.

“You probably won’t be able to pick up on what is all in (the makeshift bedroom),” Lybert said. “That’s our goal with ‘Wake-Up Call.’ We want to create and raise awareness.”

Speaking to the reaction garnered during an open house kickoff event last week, Lybert said a number of influential adults, including teachers and police officers, were unaware of some of the clues.

If you go

Who: Your Choice organization, Kettle Moraine Parent Resource Network, Oconomowoc Parent Education Network, Waukesha County Drug Free Communities

What: “Wake-Up Call” exhibit, free

When: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, April 14 and April 21; 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays, April 15 and April 22; 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23; private tours available for groups of eight or more

Where: Your Choice office, 138 North Ave., Hartland

For info: Call 262-367-9901

Johnson, Baldwin to hold hearing at WCTC on heroin epidemic
Freeman Staff
April 13, 2016

PEWAUKEE — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, along with committee member U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., will hold a field hearing on Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Waukesha County Technical College, 800 Main St.

The hearing is titled “Border Security and America’s Heroin Epidemic: The Impact of the Trafficking and Abuse of Heroin and Prescription Opioids in Wisconsin.”

According to a press release, Johnson is looking forward to hearing from law enforcement, local lawmakers, family members and treatment experts on how Congress can continue to address the opioid epidemic.

Participants include:

James F. Bohn, director of Wisconsin HIDTA, Office of National Drug Control Policy;

Dr. Timothy Westlake, vice chairman of the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board and chairman of the Controlled Substance Committee;

Tyler Lybert, a recovering heroin addict; and his sister Ashleigh Nowakowski of Your Choice-Live, a drug and alcohol awareness program for young people;

Lauri Badura, mother of Archie Badura, who died in 2014 from an overdose;

R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security;

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel;

Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton;

Wisconsin state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.

Stairway to Heroin series continues
Event to feature replica of teenager’s bedroom
By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff
March 31, 2016

OCONOMOWOC — The Oconomowoc Parent Education Network’s Stairway to Heroin series is set to continue this April taking parents through a life-size replica of a teenager’s room led by a former drug addict or a parent who had a student abuser who will point out to them possible “red flags” that signal drug or alcohol use.

“Wake-Up Call” is located at 138 North Ave., Hartland with tours running sporadically throughout the month. The exhibit is open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 14, April 15, April 21 and April 22. Then again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 14 and April 21. Finally the last day of the exhibit is from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. April 23. Each person attending the exhibit will leave with a folder of valuable resources for drug and alcohol prevention.

The bedroom will identify several spots where teens may hide drugs, household items that can be used as drug paraphernalia and the ways teens try to cover up drug and alcohol use.

“Our goal is to educate parents and other adults who are influential in the lives of youth so they know what seemingly innocent items can actually be an indication of substance abuse,” said Sandi Lybert, founder of Your Choice.

OPEN Coordinator Katie Westerman wants to encourage parents, grandparents, educators and community members to visit the display and learn what some common signs of substance abuse are.

“With teen drug and alcohol use, it’s so important to address it right away before a child’s use escalates into an addiction or leads to other risky behavior,” she said.

The exhibit is a collaborative effort between many organizations dedicated to preventing substance abuse. The Kettle Moraine Parent Resource Network is one of the partners again.

“It will take a large community effort to combat the growing abuse of prescription drugs and heroin by our youth. The first step begins at home because none of our families are exempt,” said Renee Manion, co-chair of KM PRN. “This collaboration shows the commitment in Waukesha County to create awareness and conversations around this issue in order to stop this epidemic in our communities.”

Private tours of the room for groups of eight or more can be scheduled throughout the month of April by calling the Your Choice office at 262-3679901. The exhibit is open to adults 21 and over only.

Example red flags

Alcohol use: Water bottles, grape soda, breath mints and baking extracts can be signs.

Marijuana and tobacco use: Visine, an empty toilet paper role stuffed with a dryer sheet, pipes made of tin foil, lighters, incense, cologne or air freshener can be signs.

Prescription drug use: Rolled-up dollar bills, CD cases with scratches, pens with the ink removed, Ziploc bags, pill bottles and credit cards or licenses lying around can be signs.

Heroin use: Bent paper clips, small cotton balls, looped belts, cellophane wrappers, needles, alcohol wipes


If you go

What: Wake Up Call: A life-size exhibit of a teenager’s bedroom and guided tour

When: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 14, 15, 21 and 22; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 14 and 22; 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. April 23

Where: Louis Kaiser Law Office, 138 North Ave., Hartland

Fighting heroin overdoses
Schimel discusses making treatment more affordable and attainable
By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff
March 26, 2016

MADISON — A grant was recently announced which will eventually provide staff at K-12 schools the ability to access Narcan, which is used as an antidote for heroin overdoses.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said Thursday there need to be modifications to the law that permits teachers to administer Narcan. Currently it would be limited to nurses at the schools.

Most commonly, it is administered as a nasal spray by law enforcement or intravenously by EMT paramedics or doctors.

“We should make it more available where there is potential for an overdose,” Schimel said.

Although Schimel doesn’t think students will overdose while at school, he said there are people who live on campus or around the schools who use drugs.

Benefiting budgets

On Wednesday, Schimel announced an agreement between Amphastar Pharmaceuticals and Wisconsin public entities. The agreement states that a $6 rebate will be given per every Narcan syringe a public entity buys through Feb. 2017.

Schimel said the agreement benefits fire departments and ambulance services who utilize the injectable form of Narcan; however, law enforcement personnel who are trained as EMTs can possibly qualify for the rebate.

“We are working to try to find an agreement for the nasally administered Narcan to cover law enforcement,” Schimel told The Freeman on Thursday.

He pointed out there are so many administrations of Narcan in Wisconsin, it is starting to affect budgets of fire departments and ambulance services. “A decade ago no one would have predicted we would be in this situation,” Schimel said.

Schimel said in 2012, there were 5,000 Narcan administrations in the state, and the numbers have been climbing ever since.

In terms of budgeting, the cost of Narcan is not cheap. Schimel said the injections cost $33 a dose and some people need more than one dose. The nasal administered drug costs about $38 per dose.

“No one is suggesting not to pay for it — it saves lives,” Schimel said.

He said it has started to become a big budget issue as public entities are using it more frequently.

The current agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals is until Feb. 1, 2017 but Schimel expects in a year they will have do something such as extending the agreement or making other arrangements.

“There will not be a resolution to the opiate problem by then,” he said.

Schimel hopes to look into whether a prescription for Narcan is necessary. Narcan is not harmful to individuals and no one can get high from it.

A Wisconsin immunity law was recently passed that said if someone brings a person out of an overdose, that someone would be immune from criminal or civil liability.

Changing the status quo on medicine dispensing

Schimel said the medical communities are working hard to address prescribing issues to reduce prescription scripts for narcotic pain medicine. The medical community is also changing the conversation with patients to provide a better understanding of what these drugs are.

The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board is working to develop new rules and guidelines for prescribing narcotic pain medicine. Schimel said he is very pleased with how Wisconsin has come together to combat the drug issue.

Breaking the chain of addiction

Schimel wants to remind people that 4 out of 5 heroin users started out with a prescription narcotic.

“About 70 percent of those who start, first get the drugs by getting them from a family member or a friend improperly,” he said.

He urges people to only use narcotic pain medicine as prescribed. Another tip is to store the medicine securely and get rid of excess medicine safely.

“This will help knock out a huge part of the issue. The painkillers are the gateway drug,” Schimel said.

He added this will help get rid of the demand for heroin in the state.

He has a message to people who are addicted to drugs — there is hope. Schimel said people need to stop thinking drug addiction is something to be ashamed of; it is a disease.

While people do make the choice to use opiates, the usage is not as simple as just trying to get high. Many people face difficulty ceasing pain medicine use after surgery or a medical procedure. It hits all communities and every walk of life. Schimel said we each have a role to play in taking on the epidemic of abusing prescription opiates.

Eagle police trained in Narcan use

The village of Eagle completed Narcan administration training on Monday with its police department. Eagle Police Department Captain Steve Lesniewski said the training took three hours to complete. The training had a PowerPoint presentation and multiple stations set up for practice assessments. There were extra hospital staff members on scene to help educate officers about what to look for in an overdose situation.

The police department is waiting for the Narcan kits to arrive. Lesniewski, who teaches in the police academy at Waukesha County Technical College, remembered officers being trained on using automated external defibrillators. “Narcan is like AED, it is an extra tool to use,” he said.

Lesniewski said Narcan is easy to use and works fast within minutes. He added every minute counts.

“We can’t save everyone, but at least this gives the person a chance,” he said.


Schimel: Drug company sets up heroin overdose antidote rebates
Associated Press
March 24, 2016

MADISON — A pharmaceutical company has agreed to provide rebates to public entities in Wisconsin that purchase the heroin overdose antidote Narcan.

Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the deal on Wednesday. The agreement calls for Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to provide a $6 rebate for every Narcan syringe public entities purchase from the company through Feb. 1, 2017. State, county and local government agencies as well as law enforcement and other government entities that distribute Narcan will be eligible for the rebate. “Heroin and prescription narcotic painkillers are contributing to more deaths in Wisconsin each year than car crashes,” said Schimel in a news release. “The Wisconsin Department of Justice is doing, and will continue to do, everything it can to make access to (Narcan) as easy and cheap as possible.” Schimel said in a news release that Amphastar has reached similar agreements with other states, including Ohio and New York.

Patrick Ryan, president of the Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin, said in the release that the deal should help build emergency responders’ Narcan supplies. The WDOJ is exploring rebates with other manufacturers of Narcan, according to the release.

Walker signs anti-heroin bills in Oconomowoc
Laws are latest measures in opioid addiction fight
By Ryan Billingham - Freeman Staff
March 18, 2016

OCONOMOWOC — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills into law Thursday at ProHealth Care’s Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital as part of a heroin addiction prevention tour.

The two bills, Assembly Bill 365 and Assembly Bill 660, were among eight the governor signed at health facilities around the state.

Gov. Scott Walker holds a newly-signed bill to help combat opioid addiction at Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital on Thursday
 Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

Citing grim statistics concerning a rapidly worsening opioid addiction crisis, Walker said new legislation he signed during the Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education tour will increase communication between law enforcement, the medical community and substance abuse counselors, as well as establish guidelines for prescribing opioid pain medication.

“We need to address this everywhere it rises up in our state,” Walker said. “Community by community, county by county, region by region — and hopefully inspire a few other states to take notice of what we’re doing as well.”

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, whose daughter has struggled with opioid addiction, has been at the forefront of the HOPE agenda.

Assembly Bill 365 requires law enforcement agents to report to their agency the name and birth date of any individual suspected of prescription drug violation, theft, overdose, or death.

Assembly Bill 660 allows the Medical Examining Board, the Podiatry Affiliated Credentialing Board, the Board of Nursing, the Dentistry Examining Board, and the Optometry Examining Board to issue guidelines regarding best practices in prescribing controlled substances for persons credentialed by the board who are authorized to prescribe them.

Nygren authored both bills and attended the tour stops. He spoke about his personal experience and encouraged increased awareness of the problem.

”Prescription drug abuse and addiction knows no boundaries; everyone in our country knows someone who is affected, regardless of their background,” he said. “I’m proud that Wisconsin is leading the way in fighting this devastating problem.”

State Rep. John Nygren speaks at Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital about the bill to help combat opioid addiction that he co-authored. 
 Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

Oconomowoc resident Lauri Badura lost her son, Archie, to an overdose in May 2014. She said the new legislation is “a huge step.”

Badura has become an outspoken champion of the anti-heroin/opioid movement. She said it is important to combat the stigma of addiction.

“I believe addiction is a brain disorder and a mental illness,” Badura said. ”And I believe as a state we need to look at treating addiction as a long-term illness similar to diabetes.”

Steve Kulick, chief medical officer at ProHealth Care, introduced Nygren and Walker. He said addiction is becoming so prevalent that most people now know someone affected by what he called the “opioid epidemic.”

He acknowledged the work of the Waukesha County Heroin Task Force, a local coalition comprised of representatives from government, law enforcement, education, health care, community organizations, and business groups, and expressed hope the new legislation will be an important piece of the solution to the opioid problem.


Ron Johnson: Nephew died from heroin overdose
Senator calls for public education about the dangers of opiates
By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff
March 15, 2016

WAUKESHA — The war on drugs hit home for Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson; his nephew died of a heroin overdose within the past two months. He briefly discussed the personal tragedy during a teleconference on Monday. “It began with a sports-related injury, an opiate addiction transferring into heroin which resulted in his death,” he said. Johnson declined to elaborate on specifics due to his family’s privacy. His message was no one is immune to drug addiction; it affects everyone.

Johnson said the drug problem is not only a community problem but effects national security. He said the root of the issue is an unsecure border and how easy it is for Americans to buy and access drugs. Johnson said they held 14 hearings on border security, only to conclude a close link between drug trafficking and the southern border not being secure.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said the opiate epidemic in Wisconsin is his number one priority as attorney general. He is thrilled at the U.S. Senate’s recent passing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The bill would create more federal grants to fight opioid abuse, expand treatment programs and provide training to first-responders on how to administer heroin overdose antidotes such as Narcan.

Schimel commended the unanimity in the legislature on the topic of the opiate problem, treatment, law enforcement, prevention, education and all the crucial parts in combating it. Schimel said Wisconsin is eligible for grant opportunities, the bill would create more federal grants to fight opioid abuse and increase treatment programs.

Schimel said drugs are spiking the number of different crimes in Wisconsin and changing the main cause of death. “Going back to 2014 data for Wisconsin, drug overdose deaths were neck and neck with falls,” he said. He anticipates the 2015 data will show drug overdoses as the new leading cause of death in Wisconsin.

Johnson said it was vitally important for the press to continue covering drug related tragedies in the community and world. “The first part of the solution is public education,” said Johnson. He discussed the passing of former first lady Nancy Reagan and her “Just say no” anti-drug campaign decades ago. Johnson said her campaign proved successful at lowering drug use in America. He wants to convey the message to young people that drugs are not glamorous by highlighting the broken lives and families due to drug abuse.

“We have only begun to grapple with this incredibly complex problem. This bill is an important bipartisan step,” Johnson said.


‘It’s never too late’ to battle addiction
Speakers at Starting Point breakfast bring different backgrounds to same crisis
By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff
March 7, 2016

THIENSVILLE — Given the effects that drugs and alcohol addiction can have on a society, it can’t just be swept under the rug forever, according to Isabella Scaffidi of Homestead High School.

She was one of several guest speakers at Starting Point of Ozaukee’s breakfast benefit Friday at The Watermark at Shully’s. Dedicated to making communities stronger by providing substance abuse prevention and intervention resources, Starting Point brought people from all over Ozaukee County together to discuss why it is important to help those who battle addiction. Each speaker addressed the issue from their own experiences.

 Miss Wisconsin, Rosalie Smith, left, and Homestead High School student Isabella Scaffidi were two of the speakers Friday at the Starting Point of Ozaukee breakfast, whose theme was “Empower Our Youth.”
Photos by Melanie Boyung

Rosalie Smith: Miss Wisconsin 2015, Smith spoke at the breakfast about Colin’s Crusade, the story of her brother that led to her Miss Wisconsin platform helping those who suffer addiction to fight back. Smith’s older brother battled addiction alone, without anyone ever suspecting that he had a problem with alcohol, until his family came to help him move and found a closet filled with empty bottles he had forgotten to hide.

“Many people do reach out for help, and they still relapse … you wonder is it even worth it. I believe with all my heart that it is always worth it,” Smith said.

Smith said Colin was a very high-functioning alcoholic, and had always appeared very happy. Colin got help when his addiction was no longer a secret, joined the Teen Challenge program and was clean for 18 months. Smith said he died shortly after he relapsed, but she does not see a failure in it. When she looks back on her brother, she sees someone who won, because he fought his addiction.

“You can receive help (against addiction), and it’s never too late,” she said.

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette: In the past two years alone, Nygren has been involved with 17 Legislature bills connected to drug use and abuse, all of which passed. One of the bills grants immunity to people who call 911 during an overdose, to avoid situations where people leave those in trouble without help because they are afraid of being arrested themselves.

Nygren said it happened to his own daughter, who was left by her friends when she overdosed and was found by her mother.

“That was my stopping point,” Nygren said.

Nygren’s daughter survived, and when she was incarcerated on drug charges afterward, he told her there were a lot of people like her, young people, people from good families and homes, and for whom he needed to do something. Nygren began his work on drug-related matters. “Honestly, as legislators, we bring our own experience,” he said.

Another of Nygren’s bills established the system under which pharmacies have to report when and to whom they dispense certain classifications of drugs. He said it was designed to prevent people from “doctor-shopping” to get multiple prescriptions. He said only an estimated 14 percent of doctors have been using the database. He said the system will be improved and made more efficient in the near future.

Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol: Gerol told the people collected at Starting Point's breakfast that he was the one who prosecuted drug-related crimes in the county. He had met the addicts, their parents, their dealers; he currently has three Len Bias cases pending in Ozaukee County. They are cases involving those who who deliver drugs that lead to an overdose death. He also shared statistics that show more than 80 percent of felonies prosecuted in Ozaukee County over the last several years were somehow related to drugs.

“An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure,” Gerol said.

Gerol also spoke to the parents in the audience. He told them they should never let up on making sure their children are safe. They should communicate with their children's friends’ parents, check their children’s phones and rooms if they’re worried or suspect something is wrong and let their children know about it. He said a parent should use vigilance against drugs to provide their kids an out to the peer pressures surrounding substance use, quoting Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify,” and applied it to his own children as well, two 13-year-old girls.

“I'm trying to give my kids the gift of being able to say, ‘No, my dad is crazy’” he said.

Isabella Scaffidi, Starting Point Champion at HHS: Scaffidi talked about a friend of hers who used drugs. She did not go into too many details, because she said it wasn’t the story of addiction she believed was so important, as the story of recovery.

She said her friend’s life entered a pattern “abuse, isolation and inevitable destruction.” Even so, once the friend got help, she was able to put her life back together. When Scaffidi saw her again, after months of separation during the treatment, all they felt was joy.

“No one should ever feel like they deserve to be abused, no one should ever feel they don’t deserve to be loved,” she said.

The breakfast also included a silent auction to raise money for Starting Point, which runs prevention and intervention resources like Champions, a program in which area high schoolers commit to living substance-free and mentor younger students, to which Scaffidi belongs.

Melanie Boyung can be reached at

The fight against prescription drug abuse
Schimel describes Dose of Reality campaign at school symposium event
By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman
Feb. 15, 2016

WAUKESHA — Former Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel returned to his old stomping grounds Friday as he discussed a new statewide campaign concerning the dangers of misused prescription drugs at a school symposium.

Schimel, who in November 2014 was elected Wisconsin’s attorney general, spoke about the growing danger surrounding prescription drugs in today’s youth culture during the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools’ annual leadership conference at the Country Springs Hotel.

Last fall, Schimel’s office helped spearhead a campaign, A Dose of Reality, aimed at spreading the word about the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse. The campaign includes a comprehensive website,, and a series of TV spots.

“This is a problem that is affecting every community in our state,” said Schimel, who was one of about a half-dozen panelists at the council’s daylong conf erence. “This is not a pleasant conversation to have because it’s very frightening.”

The AG shed light on so-called Pharm Parties — a growing activity within the high school-aged population. Youths raid their parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets and place the contents into a bowl. Party attendees take the drugs, unaware of their specific contents.

“There’s this thinking that (prescription drugs) are less harmful than marijuana or cocaine, but it’s not true,” Schimel said. “There are a higher number of deaths from prescription drugs, especially painkillers.”

Schimel called on attendees to spread the word about the rising misuse of prescription drugs in schools.

The Dose of Reality program, he said, also provides safe, secure drop-off sites for unwanted prescription medications.

“Take them, and get rid of them now if you no longer need them,” Schimel said. “Don’t wait another day. If you need them, lock them up.”

Increased misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers and other medications is a concern in and of itself, Schimel said, but there’s another reason to be proactive about the issue. Recent statistics have revealed four in every five users of heroin started their addictive path by abusing prescription medications.

Heroin’s rising use has been well chronicled in recent years, and various officials — from sworn law enforcement officers to hospital staffers — have noted its availability has spread to affluent, suburban areas, including Waukesha County.

Schimel attempted to dispel the myth the abuse of prescription drugs and heroin is relegated to so-called bad kids. He readily recounted incidents involving high-achieving students who did not live to graduate from high school because of drugs.

“We need to put that aside,” Schimel said of the student stereotyping. “I’ve yet to meet a parent who thinks their kid was bad when they got involved in this. A lot of these kids are athletes.”

Drawing from his own professional background, Schimel said he believed efforts to reverse the drug abuse trend extends beyond a strictly law-andorder approach.

“We will not arrest our way out of this problem,” he said. “The only way this is going to work is if we have preventative efforts. We can’t treat prescriptions like a loaded handgun and just leave them lying around in the house.”

A main line problem
Looking at the numbers behind heroin use in 2015
Dec. 31, 2015

As 2015 turns into a new year, problems persist with the dangers of heroin use in the county.

“We’ve been able to do a lot in 2015 about raising the awareness that there is a heroin problem in Washington County, but I don’t think heroin will be going away anytime soon,” said Mary Simon, executive director for Elevate Community Resource Center in Jackson. “Making people aware that there is a problem is the first step to getting them to do something about it,” Simon said.

The Washington County Task Force had a particularly busy year, Simon said.

“The task force worked with the West Bend School District as part of an educational program and through the support of the United Way, were able to publish the Opiate and Heroin Awareness Toolkit, a prevention guideline for families,” she said.

Heroin has also kept the West Bend Police Department busy in 2015, according to to Capt. Tim Dehring.

“We had three homicides related to heroin overdoses this year,” Dehring said. “A heroin overdose death can be charged as a homicide if we find the person or people that supplied the heroin or who had a connection with obtaining it for the person who died.

“We are being very aggressive in going after those involved in these deaths, like the dealers,” Dehring said. “If that’s what it’s going to take to get heroin off the streets, then so be it.”

When asked how many heroin overdoses there were so far in 2015 that did not end in death, Dehring paused.

“Countless,” he said.

“We aren’t seeing as many deaths from overdoses because Narcan can be administered to counteract the heroin,” he added.

Narcan can be obtained for free and Dehring said he’s heard of cases where dealers were giving it out with the heroin they were selling.

“We are hearing that addicts are carrying their own Narcan,” Dehring said.

Entering the final day of 2015, the West Bend Police Department has conducted 277 drug investigations. That number does not include investigating other crimes that often are the direct result of heroin use, such as thefts and burglaries, Dehring said.

And if the numbers of the past point to a trend for the future, those numbers will continue to rise.

“In 2012, there were 170 drug investigations. In 2013, we did 214 and in 2014, we hit a spike at 288. As the year ends, we are likely going to be close to that number,” Dehring said.

Both Simon and Dehring agreed that educating children, even as young as middle school age, about the dangers of addictions may help curb all those statistics.

“No one ever wakes up one morning and decides to become a heroin addict,” Dehring said. “It usually starts with something else and escalates.”

According to information in the Opiate and Heroin Awareness Toolkit, 8.5 percent of 10th grade students in Washington County reported abusing prescription drugs in a survey conducted in 2014. Dehring echoed Simon in saying that heroin will continue to be an issue in 2016, “not only in our community, but in the state and the nation."

Drug Prevention Guide available
Coupon for free home-testing kit provided
News Graphic Staff
Dec. 17, 2015

OZAUKEE COUNTY — A drug prevention guide for families is available for download on the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force website. More than 6.5 million people 12 and older are reported to have abused drugs last month alone and every day, 4,047 children and young adults start experimenting with prescription drugs.

The 28-page Prevention Awareness Toolkit provides local stories and experiences, the names of commonly abused prescription medications, health consequences of prescription medications, what to do if a family member is suspected of using drugs, how to recognize a relapse and much more. A parents’ guide is also available for families to review. The download also provides a coupon for a free home drug testing kit.

To download the guide, go to

Musicians Against Heroin returns
Band promoting sober musicians to perform at Cultural Center Sunday
By Colleen Jurkiewicz - News Graphic Correspondent
Dec. 15, 2015

CEDARBURG — After a successful debut concert series last fall, the M.A.H. Redemption Band will once again take the stage, this time for a holiday concert at the Cedarburg Cultural Center Sunday.

M.A.H. stands for Musicians Against Heroin, and the group is composed of founder Jim Bohn, Tim Dotson, Tammy Leonard, Kevin Gierach and Mark Melchiori and features the singing of Noelle Braun.

“Every band member has had either a family member or friend touched by this,” Bohn said. “They’ve got an emotional stake in this.”

This will be the band’s fourth concert since last year, when Bohn founded the group to draw attention to the number of clean and sober professional musicians in Ozaukee County, even as the area battles what many have called a heroin and opiate abuse epidemic.

“Let’s face it; everybody wants to be a rock star,” said Bohn. “I think if (people) see that there are really significantly talented people who have put a lot into their craft who can do this and have a great time without the influence of anything except their own personal passion, I think that does mean something to the community. We’re having a blast and we’re focused and we’re enjoying it, but nobody up here is under the influence of anything except our own talent.”

The holiday concert runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the setlist will feature a strong showing of favorites like “Ave Maria” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” as well as Bohn’s original arrangements of some classic Christmas carols like “What Child is This.”

Admission is free but donations are accepted and all proceeds will go to support safe and sober living in Ozaukee County; Bohn sits on the board of Starting Point, which is leading the charge to establish the county’s first sober housing unit.

The M.A.H. Redemption Band has big plans for 2016 as well; Bohn said he is already putting together a “Nashville Circle” featuring local songwriters in the spring as well as a byinvitation M.A.H jam in the summer.

“I think overall it’s just a nice way to remind the community of a very serious matter,” he said. “These events are fun and non-threatening; we spend maybe just a few minutes on the issue. It all goes back to my simple tagline, which is music can be part of the solution.”

For more information on the holiday concert, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Attorney general backs sober housing

By Colleen Jurkiewicz - News Graphic Correspondent
Nov. 24, 2015

CEDARBURG — The prospect of establishing sober housing in Ozaukee County took center stage at a breakfast held Friday at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel and Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol were two of the speakers on the agenda for the Breakfast to Support Sober Housing, hosted by Starting Point, which is spearheading the effort to establish the county’s first sober living facility in Saukville.

Starting Point executive director Shea Halula thanked the Ozaukee County Board, which in June unanimously approved a five-year, zero-percent interest loan of $150,000 in support of the project.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel and Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol discuss plans for Healing House, a proposed sober-living facility in Saukville during a Nov. 20 breakfast meeting in Cedarburg. 
 Submitted photo

He called it an important “first step” in the process. Starting Point has used the money to purchase a four-bedroom home in Saukville that they hope to open in January.

In his remarks, Schimel praised the initiative, emphasizing the need for sober housing in Wisconsin communities as part of a “multifaceted approach” to combat what he called Wisconsin’s “opiate epidemic.”

“From 2000 to 2013, opiate overdose deaths increased by 495 percent in Wisconsin,” he said. “We’ve watched this devastation grow; they (the statistics) are still climbing. As a matter of fact, drug overdose deaths now exceed motor vehicle traffic deaths by quite a bit now.”

A sober living facility would be “absolutely critical” to the rehabilitation of Ozaukee County drug abusers, he said.

“We can’t have people confined somewhere in treatment or in jail, and then leave them no place to go, because what we should expect to happen is that they will fall right back into the struggles that they faced, that we thought we did something to help them with,” he said. “We have got to work with people all the way through the course of the process.”

He said that his eight years as the Waukesha County district attorney taught him that “locking up abusers doesn’t lead to long-term sobriety.”

“You can’t arrest your way out of a public health crisis,” he said. Though law enforcement, prevention and treatment are all essential elements of the battle against widespread opiate abuse, “treatment is absolutely critical,” he said.

“When you’re talking about the treatment resources, that’s the smallest part of the funnel, and it’s all jammed up right now. We’re doing our best but it’s going to be very difficult for us to get caught up,” he said. “And it’s not even just about money – we just don’t even have enough professionals who are trained to help people with addiction in this state.

“We’ve got a long way to go before we can do that. We’ve got to address the wide part of the funnel: we have got to stop shoving more through the narrow part. We’ve got to prevent new people from coming into this, and it’s going to take all of us working together to get this done.”

In his address, Gerol took a passionate stance in support of the proposed sober living facility, noting that there have been 11 opiate deaths in Ozaukee County so far this year. Locking up drug addicts, charging them and then releasing them back on the streets into the same environment that precipitated their addiction, he said, has proven to be an ineffective way of addressing the issue.

“It’s like the classic siren song out of the Greek myth. Something that’s simply irresistible,” he said of the temptations that drug addicts contend with when they are reintegrated into their old social circles. “And addicts simply can’t pass that by, and it’s a lure that draws them into addiction, to death, to destruction...

“We really can’t complain about catching the same old fish when we just throw them back into the same pot,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing so often in Ozaukee County ... I get no satisfaction from seeing somebody go to jail or prison. It’s a loss. It’s necessary but it’s a loss.

“By my count we have 216 sober living homes in Wisconsin. We have none in Ozaukee County. ... Shea will tell you that he’s already getting pushback about it from members of the community because they don’t want it in their backyard, and there are going to be very tense, very meaningful hearings before various Saukville boards before this thing gets a chance to get off the ground. And that’s a shame. That is an incredible shame. It’s also silly because the users, the addicts, are here already. Why wouldn’t you simply allow them to live together when they’ve all made a commitment to sobriety?"

Plans for house off to ‘a great start’

Upon approval of their $150,000 loan to Starting Point in June, the Ozaukee County Board noted that “recidivism rates are exceptionally high among once incarcerated substance abusers, estimated at 60 to 80 percent after release.”

Starting Point is hoping to expand upon Fond du Lac’s Freedom House model, which has maintained a 94 percent occupancy rate since its inception in 2008.

The initial house on Dekora Street in Saukville, to be known as Healing Point House, is approximately 1,500 square feet, four bedrooms and would be open to men residents only.

“However, that’s kind of just a Band-Aid on the problem. One house is not going to do it,” Halula said at the breakfast.

Healing Point House would offer four beds and a housing manager or senior resident who would enforce house policies. Residents would have to sign a contract, follow rules, work or attend school, contribute to the home through chores, maintain absolute sobriety, curfews and be subject to random drug testing.

In an email to the News Graphic, Halula expressed enthusiasm at the turnout for Friday’s program and optimism about Healing Point House’s future.

“I was delighted by the number of passionate supporters who attended the informative breakfast on sober housing. This is a great start as we kick-off to raise funds to support this vital piece for our community members in need,” he wrote. “As we move forward with our first place in working with the village of Saukville, I am excited from the number of people coming forward and helping. However, we need more help in spreading the word on what (a) sober house is and (is) not as well as donors to help us help those in need.”

Heroin abuse hits close to home

8th-grader recently tests positive
Nov. 4, 2015

The results of a drug test shocked even seasoned counselors at Elevate, a community resource center in Jackson — a Washington County eighth-grader recently tested positive for heroin use.

“We even asked the lab if that test result was correct, because we just couldn’t believe it,” Mary Simon, Elevate Executive Director said Tuesday afternoon.

“We were all shocked,” Ronna Corliss, county prevention coordinator for Elevate said. “I just wanted to cry. That is just so sad.”

Hermila Castaneda of Kewaskum looks at drug paraphernalia Tuesday at the Washington County Sheriff’s table during the opiate awareness resource fair at the Silver Linings Arts Center in West Bend. 
 John Ehlke/Daily News

Simon said the discovery of the youngster using heroin came about because of a new type of drug test in which fingernail clippings are submitted for testing for alcohol and/or drugs.

“The test is much less invasive than having a urine test,” Simon said.

The eighth-grader was referred to a program introduced in March called Youth Intervention, and taking the test for alcohol and/or drugs was required.

“Kids tend to not necessarily be honest about using alcohol or drugs,” Corliss said of why the test is mandatory for program participation.

Young people are referred to the program for a variety of reasons, not just alcohol or drugs, but also for issues like truancy and minor law violations, Simon said.

“With our Youth Intervention Program, it’s our hope to catch these kids before they’ve made too many bad decisions or their addictions have taken root,” Simon said.

Drug paraphernalia is on display during the opiate awareness resource fair at the Silver Linings Arts Center Tuesday night in West Bend. 
 John Ehlke/Daily News

Ron Naab, a Washington County supervisor and member of the Washington County Heroin Task Force, who attended the opiate awareness resource fair and presentation Tuesday night at the Silver Lining Arts Center at the West Bend high schools, said he was pleased to see how many people turned out for the event.

“It makes me feel good to see people taking the time to become informed about this terrible issue,” said Naab, who has a family member battling addiction.

And it is an issue in Washington County, Naab said.

“People seem to think that things like heroin aren’t happening here, but it is here and we have the resources available in the county to be of help for the person addicted and their family,” said Corliss, who was manning a table at the Resource Fair.

Heroin and opiate addictions are of such concern that at the Resource Fair, Corliss was handing out copies of a new publication sponsored by Elevate, United Way of Washington County and the Washington County Heroin Task Force titled “Opiate & Heroin Awareness Toolkit — A Prevention Guide for Families.”

Jessie Geschke of Affiliated Clinical Services looks over paperwork near displays of artwork during the opiate awareness resource fair at the Silver Linings Arts Center Tuesday night in West Bend.  
 John Ehlke/Daily News

“It’s important that people start to realize the connection between abusing prescription medications and heroin,” Corliss said.

The 34-page booklet, along with local stories of people whose lives have been impacted by such abuse, includes many facts and statistics.

“The average age of a heroin addict is 36.2 years old,” Corliss said. “The booklet also gives a list, along with photos, of what parents should look for if they suspect heroin or opiate abuse.”

“Many heroin addictions start with abusing pain medications,” Corliss said.

The last several pages detail treatment options and resources available in Washington County, Corliss said.

Sandy Danvers, who attended the Resource Fair and was glancing through a copy of the booklet, said although she did not have children of her own, she was concerned with her nieces and nephews when it comes to having to navigate through their teen years.

“I am so worried about drugs in our community,” Danvers said. “I”m glad to see there are others who are concerned, too. I’m also relieved to see there are support groups and other community resources for families.”

For more information about opiate and heroin addictions or for a copy of the booklet, contact Elevate at 262-677-2216.

Reach reporter Linda McAlpine at

Parents key in drug fight

‘Playgrounds to Pills’ stresses importance of parents in prevention
By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff
Oct. 1, 2015

The “In My Shoes” art exhibit is a traveling exhibit sponsored by Rosecrance featuring shoes decorated by children to help parents understand teenagers’ thoughts on pressures they encounter to use in their daily lives.  
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

OCONOMOWOC — The fourth installment of the Stairway to Heroin series, “Playgrounds to Pills,” featured a variety of speakers all emphasizing the importance of parents taking an active role in a child’s life.

Tuesday’s presentation at the Oconomowoc Arts Center featured a resource fair followed by a eight speakers each talking about a different aspect related to opiate use and abuse.

Brian Fidlin, a nationally known psychologist, had the longest presentation of the night. He spoke about the brain and how it works under stress. He urged parents and children in attendance to do their best to look at the level of stress in their lives and assess what they can do to lower it.

Excessive and sustained amounts of stress often lead to struggles alcohol and narcotics. The drugs take away the stress of the moment, but they do nothing to actually alleviate it, he said.

“Most of our kids are pushing themselves so incredibly hard that they’re burnt out,” Fidlin said. “You need to think about how much stress you want your kid functioning at.”

Brian Fidlin speaking in front of his presentation on seratonin and stress Tuesday as part of his presentation for “Playground to Pills,” the fourth installment in the Stairway to Heroin series.  
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

Fidlin stressed the importance of a parent being there for their child.

“I’m going to make sure they have me,” Fidlin said. “I’m going to be around for them.”

At the end of his presentation, Fidlin talked about the importance of people coming together to share what they’re struggling with because they’d find they aren’t alone.

“I challenge any of you to start putting out there the reality of who you really are,” Fidlin said. “Because what you’re going to find is you’re not alone.”

Schimel delivers Dose of Reality

State Attorney General and former Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel was on hand to give the opening remarks of the night and to talk about his recently launched Dose of Reality campaign.

“This campaign may be one of the most important things I do as attorney general because if we do this right we save lives,” Schimel said.

People gathered in the lobby of the Oconomowoc Arts Center at the resource fair that was held before the presentation.  
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff

The campaign features television and radio spots, social media activity and advertising to inform residents about the improper use of prescription painkillers, highlight the dangers of inadequate storage and disposal, address issues specific to medical providers, parents, students and young adults, and encourage positive actions.

Schimel frequently mentioned the campaign is one of numerous steps his office is taking to combat the growing drug problem in Lake Country.

The notion that only the bad kids do drugs is something Schimel said needs to be addressed “I have met hundreds of parents now who have buried their children due to opiate overdose and not any of them thought their child was a bad kid,” Schimel said. “We can’t hide behind the myth that this just happens in the urban city. This is happening in every community.”

The Dose of Reality campaign is so important because prescription painkiller abuse shows a direct connection to abusing opiates, Schimel said. If communities shut down prescription pill abuse they start to shut down heroin.

Other takeaways

Kettle Moraine counselor Alissa Darin quoted a statistic that said 80 percent of students don’t use alcohol because they care about their parents’ perceptions of them. She said parents have to make themselves as involved in their child’s life as possible and know who children hang out with to prevent use by association.

“Adolescents that have a close relationship with their parents are less likely to use drugs or alcohol,” Darin said.

Tom Wright, chief medical officer for Rosecrance Health Network, told the story of how his foster son ended up in his protection, listed numerous statistics on opiate use and various ways to treat addiction.

Lisa Dawes and Scott Bakkum briefly touched on the Oconomowoc Area School District’s random drug testing policy, saying the policy was brought forward by the students, and that it was the students that suggested the testing start in seventh grade.


Stopping an overdose in its tracks
Anti-overdose drug to be available without prescriptions at Wisconsin CVS pharmacies
By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff
Sept. 29, 2015

OZAUKEE COUNTY — An anti-overdose drug that reverses the effect of narcotics will soon be available in Ozaukee County without a prescription.

CVS Pharmacy announced last week that it will be expanding over-the-counter availability of naloxone, also called Narcan. According to a press release from CVS, Wisconsin is one of 12 states in which the drug will be made available this month.

CVS has already been able to order and supply the drug with a prescription; the new, over-the-counter supply will allow narcotics users or family members to have the medication on-hand without a prescription. According to information from CVS, expanding naloxone availability is just one part of a larger initiative.

“Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medications and illegal drugs such as heroin. Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives,” Tom Davis, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS said in the press release. “While all 7,800 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide can continue to order and dispense naloxone when a prescription is presented, we support expanding naloxone availability without a prescription and are reviewing opportunities to do so in other states.”

Locally, the CVS in Cedarburg did not have naloxone in stock Monday, but can order and receive it if needed. Mike DeAngelis, public relations director of CVS, said that it is not typical for a CVS pharmacy to keep naloxone in stock. If it is needed, the pharmacy can order it for a patient and generally have the medication within one business day to dispense at the pharmacy counter.

Deputies in the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office have been trained to administer Narcan in cases of overdose, and they carry the drug during their duties, according to Sheriff Jim Johnson. He said that sheriff’s deputies

have not needed to administer it yet, but their training was run by Aurora Medical Center personnel, and a medical doctor runs the program.

“I believe that the safest way to deliver Narcan is by trained personnel under the direction of a medical professional,” Johnson said.

Officers of local police departments throughout Ozaukee County have been training in the use of Narcan as well, and the overdose antidote is carried by police personnel. EMTs in Cedarburg and several other communities in the county have administered the drug.

One concern about such availability of naloxone is knowledge. While police officers and deputies go through training before carrying or using naloxone, being able to obtain it without prescription could allow people to have it – and use it – without any preparation.

“The main thing is, is there going to be any education with this?” said Shea Halula, director of Starting Point of Ozaukee. Halula added that if there is not education involved, it would be an unfortunate missed opportunity.

While over-the-counter availability of naloxone will mean that people will be able to access and use it without training or medical expertise, the goal of CVS’s program is to increase resources for potential drug overdoses. Information from CVS said naloxone is a safe and effective means of reversing overdose effects; Johnson said that county deputies are trained to administer small doses nasally, to avoid dramatic reversal symptoms.

Kirsten Johnson, director of health services for Ozaukee County, cited the importance of naloxone in limiting overdose deaths in the community.

“I think accessibility to naloxone is an important harm-reduction strategy,” she said. The other states where CVS is expanding access to naloxone are Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. The drug has already been available at CVS pharmacies in Rhode Island and Massachusetts without a prescription.

According to news accounts, Walgreens has made the drug available at its stores in Cincinnati.

Melanie Boyung can be reached at

Stairway to Heroin events complimented by county-wide campaign

By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff
Sept. 24, 2015

OCONOMOWOC — The Oconomowoc Parents Education Network’s fourth installment in the Stairway to Heroin series will emphasize the influence parents have on a child’s decision to not use drugs.

“Playgrounds to Pills: Prevention Begins with Parents” will be from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., with a resource fair in the OAC lobby from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“Since healthy habits are formed at a young age, it is never too early to lay the foundation for a drug-free lifestyle,” OPEN Coordinator Katie Westerman said.

Westerman said the program will feature:

Techniques to teach resiliency and refusal skills at an early age,

Childhood brain development and its impact on decision-making skills,

Parenting strategies that make a difference: monitoring, having difficult conversations and setting boundaries, and

A review of the Oconomowoc Area School District random drug testing policy.

‘Dose of Reality’

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced a new public information and awareness campaign last week aimed at preventing abuse of prescription painkillers.

The “Dose of Reality” campaign will feature television and radio spots, social media activity and advertising to inform residents about the improper use of prescription painkillers, highlight the dangers of inadequate storage and disposal, address issues specific to medical providers, parents, students and young adults, and encourage positive actions.

“The epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse is taking an enormous toll on our children, our families and our community,” Schimel said in a video on the campaign’s website. “None of us as parents would leave a loaded handgun on the kitchen counter, and yet very few of us think twice about leaving prescription painkillers sitting in our medicine cabinets unsecured, and those prescription painkillers are killing a lot more people than handguns.”

The campaign launch comes a month ahead of the Department of Justice’s Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 17.

While medical experts and law enforcement officials have drawn a connection between painkiller abuse and heroin use, Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades said 45 percent of the state’s 843 drug overdose deaths in 2013 were caused by opioid painkillers.

Schimel’s office stressed the campaign is “not designed to vilify prescription painkillers nor those who prescribe them, but to raise awareness that when used or stored improperly, they can be dangerous or even deadly. Prescription painkillers can be beneficial when properly prescribed by a licensed medical or dental professional, properly used as directed, stored securely and disposed of properly.”

The Wisconsin Medical Society was quick to praise the effort. The organization’s president, Dr. Jerry Halverson, said: “Too often in circumstances like these, it’s easy to think it’s someone else’s problem.”

“This epidemic affects people in every demographic throughout our state — all ages, all incomes, all races and all geographies — and no one can afford to sit on the sidelines if we are to bring this crisis under control,” Halverson said.

Also contributing: Arthur Thomas, Enterprise Staff

Solutions there for opiate crisis
Diversion program, sober housing have worked
By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent
Sept. 24, 2015

CEDARBURG— Doug Darby didn’t need to rely on many statistics to get his point across at the Solutions and Hope Presentation, but he did share one with an impact: Last year, 7,000 doses of the anti-overdose drug Narcan were administered in Wisconsin.

“If you do the math, that’s about 20 people a day,” said Darby, co-founder of the recovery advocacy group Rise Together. “If we were losing 20 people a day on Wisconsin highways, we’d all be in Madison demanding something be done. These seats should be full tonight – that’s how bad the heroin problem is right here, right now.”

The series of speakers at the Solutions and Hope Presentation, coordinated by Starting Point and the Ozaukee Heroin Task Force, all brought different perspectives to our county’s heroin problem.

“Every once in a while you’ll see an article in the News Graphic about a young person dying of a heroin overdose,” said moderator and State Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon “But the heroin problem here is much more serious than that. It’s a complex problem that does not lend itself to easy solutions.”

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spoke about efforts to put a real face on heroin addiction, including a nod to Eva Holland, whose family photo – of herself, her two young children and her heroin-addicted husband in his casket – made the rounds of Facebook a few weeks ago.

“This is something that is very real that affects families,” she said.

Kleefisch noted that the Wisconsin Legislature has approved $1.5 million in funding for TAD (Treatment Alternatives and Diversion) programming to combat this problem.

State Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, also reported on the HOPE (Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education) Agenda. This series of bills, spearheaded by State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, the father of a heroin-addicted daughter, includes a variety of efforts, including among them a bill that now requires identification for those picking up certain narcotic and opiate drugs; training for EMTs and other first responders for Narcan administration; and the TAD funding.

“I want to stress the level of commitment you have on this issue,” she said. Kerry Y o u n g , coordinator for Starting Point, also spoke about the real need for TAD efforts and the establishment of sober housing facilities in Ozaukee County. “Diversion means that if certain conditions are met, individuals are not formally charged for their crime,” he explained. “It is about the individual demonstrating accountability for his or her actions.” Young noted that 34 individuals have been offered diversion alternatives in Ozaukee County. Twenty-eight people have accepted the option, and 22 people are still in the program.

He also stressed the need for sober housing in Ozaukee County, and credited the Ozaukee County Board for jump starting the process by allocating seed money to help search for a possible property.

“It’s so critical in the county and recovery in general,” he said. “Something happens at 90 days of recovery – the relapse rate does drop. We have TAD programming and AODA services, but we are missing a piece. We need sober living facilities.”

Carol Schneider, founder and CEO of SEEK, addressed the employment opportunities that do remain available for those who have been in jail or are in recovery. She also noted that this was an issue of importance to her as the grandmother of an addict who ultimately committed suicide.

“In Wisconsin, it is illegal to discriminate against people who have been in jail,” she said. “We’re here to help and we want people to know it is OK. There isn’t a single employer out there that won’t say yes if we can provide them with a trainable fit.”

Darby brought the perspective of a former drug addict, now sober since 2010. Darby is a second-generation addict, who lost his own father at the age 15.

“And I guarantee you that when I was 15, I never said, ‘I want to grow up and be a junkie,’” he said. “I’m still a person in long-term recovery; I bring a face and voice to recovery. I’ve spoken in front of 150 high schools – that’s 70,000 kids – and I share my story with the hopes that kids will come up and share theirs. And they do. Sometimes, they can really identify.”

Darby also stressed that it was possible to do something to combat the heroin problem.

“People think, ‘What can I do?’” he said. “Look at me. I’m just some junkie up here talking.”

What can you do as a parent?

The final speaker at the Solutions and Hope Presentation was Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol, who spoke on what parents can do to keep their kids safe.

“Kids know drugs are bad, but that wrongfulness doesn’t stop them,” he said. “They’re surrounded by drugs. You don’t know what they will say and what they will do to try and fit in.”

Combine that with the unpredictable nature of heroin, and parents have real reason to be worried.

“People can use it for a while with no ill effects and then suddenly overdose,” he said, noting that getting a heroin high can cost as little as $10 to $20. “Or they can overdose or become addicted the first time.”

Gerol says that in addition to being proactive – checking a child’s room for drug paraphernalia, watching social media, getting to know and engaging with their friends – parents need to be “that parent.”

“Give your kids the gift of being able to say no,” he encouraged. “Be that parent so that your son or daughter can say, ‘Oh, you don’t know my mom or dad. I can’t touch that stuff.”

Or let a little of that “crazy” shine.

“Be that parent who shows up unannounced at a party with a giant bag of Doritos and says, ‘I just thought you guys might be hungry,’” said Gerol. “Your child needs to know that you will go to those extremes to keep him or her safe.”

-Laurie Arendt

Citizens group addresses drug use in community
Resource Fair to be held at 5:30 p.m.
By Alex Zank - Daily News
Sept. 22, 2015

CEDARBURG —  The Concerned Citizens of West Bend met for its second meeting Monday evening to tackle a hefty topic: drug use in the community.

Officials with the West Bend Police Department presented on drug issues in the community, and Washington County District Attorney Mark Bensen gave an overview on what his office does for the county.

They spoke to a crowd of about 20 at City Hall, 1115 S. Main St. Police officials spent much of their presentation discussing heroin with the question- filled audience.

Officer Justin Klopp, who is involved in the county’s Multi-jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Group, said they typically come across white, gray or black and tarry forms of the drug.

“Typical amounts we see are very, very small,” he said. “Anywhere from about a tenth of a gram to upwards to ... three grams.”

Two grams of heroin is about the size of a marble, the presenters said.

Klopp said most people start using heroin because they were already abusing painkillers or other narcotics, including Oxycontin or Vicodin. Some start using these medications through a prescription or trying a friend’s supply. Then they move to heroin.

Warning signs of a heroin user include a lack of interest in favored activities, withdrawal from friends and family, lack of hygiene and missing property.

“If you’re a heroin addict, you’re probably not holding down a really good job. You need money, you’ve gotta get your next fix. So you start to steal,” Klopp said.

Bensen started his presentation by explaining what the District Attorney’s office does.

“We handle all of the criminal matters that are referred up to our office from the city of West Bend and the other police agencies that are in Washington County,” he said, adding that in 2014 the office received about 3,600 referrals.

Only about 40-50 cases actually go to trial, he said, while the majority of the cases are settled with a plea bargain. Though Bensen pointed out he does not directly represent the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, he could say the success rates for probation varies by the case.

“There are certain cases where the success rates are much higher,” he said. “Heroin cases unfortunately are the ones that the success rates are not good.”

Randy Koehler, who is responsible for forming the group, asked why the District Attorney’s office ends up dropping some charges in a case.

Bensen used a theoretical example of someone who has four counts of theft.

“The reason we do it really ... is two-fold,” he said. “One is expedience. The simple fact is we don’t have the ability to try every case of hundreds of cases.”

The other is what he called a practical matter. If someone has four serious counts against them, if the office can get someone to plead to two counts, that still gives plenty of jail or prison time to appropriately match the crime.

An audience member asked why the county does not have a drug court, claiming these courts are typically successful.

Bensen said this was something they were looking into, but there are many players involved in setting something up. He added that circuit court judges already have a lot on their plate even without establishing a drug court.

“While I do think that drug courts have their place, it’s not something you can just snap your fingers and it’s done,” he said.

Koehler started Concerned Citizens as a Facebook group earlier this year as a response to what he saw as a worrisome prevalence of crime in neighborhoods.

He reported on Monday the group has more than 800 members.

The next public meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27. This is a Tuesday, which breaks from the Monday evening meetings the group had regularly been holding.

Reach reporter Alex Zank at

Knowledge is power in fight against heroin
OASD sets next ‘Stairway’ event for Sept. 29
By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff
Sept. 10, 2015

OCONOMOWOC — Oconomowoc Area School District Superintendent Roger Rindo said in January he was sick and tired of burying kids because of drug abuse.

The Oconomowoc Area School District is doing a number of things to combat a growing drug problem. The district implemented a random drug testing policy that started this year. The policy tests students from seventh to twelfth grade who participate in extracurriculars, sports or park in district parking lots, and the district is hoping it can be another tool to help kids say no.

The Oconomowoc Parents Education Network is hosting another installment in its Stairway to Heroin series. The fourth installment, “Playgrounds to Pills...Prevention Begins with Parents,” is slated for 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 29, with a resource fair and art exhibit featuring installations showing the drug abuse problem through the perspective of a child before the program starts at 6:30 p.m.

Statistics on drug related deaths

Figures provided by the Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office show an increase in drug-related deaths nearly every year from 2008 until 2012, with 2011 and 2012 representing the highest totals. There were 47 drug-related deaths in 2011 and 59 in 2012.

There were 10 drug-related deaths in 2015 so far. Deputy Medical Examiner Kristine Klenz said that number is expected to grow as the office receives final toxicology reports. The medical examiner’s office will not define a death as drug-related until the death certificate is signed.

Of the 305 drug-related deaths from 2008 to 2014 in Waukesha County, heroin was responsible for 69 of them. The age range of the deaths varied on a yearly basis. From 2008 to 2013, the youngest person who died because of drug use was 13 while the oldest was 87. The average age hovers in the lower 40s. In that span, 145 men have died, and 108 women (2014-15 gender numbers were not provided).

For heroin specifically, the highest number of deaths attributed to the drug was 21 in 2012, with 11 following in 2013 and 13 in 2014 and three so far this year.

Data from the Medical Examiner’s office does not take into account emergency room visits.

School official perspective

The drug problem is of special interest to Oconomowoc High School Principal Joseph Moylan. He graduated with a degree in counseling then went to the Adler School of Professional Psychology where he was a therapist who worked with crack and heroin addicts in downtown Chicago. After that he went to Denver where he worked in the same capacity with mentally ill people who used drugs and alcohol as a way to deal with their illness.

“I’ve been around these issues for all my life,” Moylan said. “I don’t know if it’s personal until you work with a family and a kid for a very long time and you see them die. That’ll light anybody up.”

Moylan said the drug issue plaguing Lake Country and OHS is unique to neither.

“Every high school in the country has drug issues,” he said. “It’s part of the work that we do.”

The problem isn’t just the high school’s problem, it’s the community’s, the parents’ and the kids’, he said. The only way it’ll get better is if a everyone comes together, he added.

“Through our Stairway to Heroin educational series, we have made an impact by addressing the problem, bringing awareness to the problem and promoting prevention efforts,” Oconomowoc Parent Education Network and Stairway program coordinator Katie Westerman said.

Westerman mirrored Moylan’s comments, saying the success of the Stairway program is contingent on a community coming together.

Ultimately, Westerman said the goal of the Stairway series is to reduce substance use among adolescents by providing education and spreading awareness.

The latest program exemplifies what OPEN is about, Westerman said, the power of the parents.

“Prevention begins with parents,” Westerman said. “Prevention efforts supported by parents, schools, law enforcement, health care facilities and community members will make a difference in reducing drug use among our youth.”

The next steps

Moylan and Westerman both said the problem will never end.

Speaking from past experience, Moylan took issue with the increasingly lax attitude surrounding marijuana and the growing movement to legalize it. He said misguided beliefs in the society over marijuana and the place it has are coming from people who aren’t looking at it from the addiction arena.

“The notion that marijuana with its THC levels today isn’t addictive or that it isn’t a gateway drug is ridiculous,” Moylan said. “I think Colorado and Washington are learning some lessons that way, that are really ugly. As long as we have people who say ‘No, this isn’t that bad’ and ‘We should legalize it,’ I think we’re going to battle.”

County seeks warrant to search car possibly involved in drug overdose death

WAUKESHA — Investigators have searched a car in the Town of Ottawa which they believe could provide evidence linking a male subject to an overdose death.

According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court on Tuesday, deputies responded to a residence in the Town of Ottawa at 9:01 a.m. Saturday regarding a pulseless, non-breathing female. Upon arrival they found a dead woman, with evidence of heroin and opiate use consistent with an overdose.

A male subject at the residence allegedly said he had spent the night at the home — his father’s — with the female subject. The father said his son has a “severe” addiction to heroin and he thought the son had been using the drug recently, according to the affidavit.

The subject allegedly said he injected the woman with an anti-overdose medication, but did not admit the female subject was using heroin or opiates. The male subject also said he and the female had met a man in the City of Pewaukee named “T” because the female subject owed him money, then went to the residence and watched movies. When he awoke the female subject was not breathing, according to the affidavit Surveillance footage from the Walgreens store at 1021 Summit Ave. in Oconomowoc allegedly shows both subjects exiting a blue sedan and entering the store. The male subject’s father had planted a mini-camera in a blue Honda Accord to keep tabs on his son. The father stated the camera was off that night and his son had “wiped the computer” and indicated he believed his son operated the car on Friday night, according to the affidavit.

Detectives searched the car — a Honda — and seized the camera, a GPS system and bottles of pills which police believe may constitute evidence of reckless homicide, according to the warrant.

— Enterprise Staff

Three charged with maintaining drug trafficking place
Residents of Lyman Street house in court

WAUKESHA — Three Oconomowoc residents were charged Wednesday after investigators with the Waukesha County Metro Drug Unit executed a search warrant on Lyman Street residence in July 2014.

Shari L. Glomski, 31, was charged in Waukesha County Court with one count each of possession of narcotic drugs, maintaining a drug trafficking place and possession of drug paraphernalia, as were Michael S. Kleinhans, 50, and his wife Stori N. Kleinhans, 39.

Each faces more than seven years in prison if convicted on all counts.

According to the criminal complaint, members of the metro drug unit entered a residence on the 400 block of South Lyman Street on July 11, 2014 and found drug packaging materials including tin foil, playing cards to help prepare heroin and numerous capsules of Dormin — a common cutting agent for heroin.

Glomski, who lived in the residence with her boyfriend, admitted to investigators that heroin found in a bedroom at the residence belonged to her and her boyfriend, the complaint states.

Investigators also spoke with Stori Kleinhans, who lives at the same address, who said she uses heroin every day and considers herself to be an addict, according to the complaint. She also said her husband receives heroin from Glomski’s boyfriend.

Inside the Kleinhans’ bedroom, investigators found a spoon with residue on it, tin foil and debris, along with a chuck of a substance which tested positive for heroin.

Glomski’s boyfriend is not yet facing any charges related to this incident, according to court records.

All three defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in court on Oct. 12.

— Matt Masterson, Enterprise Staff


EDITORIAL : It’s not going away
Heroin, opiate deaths continue in county

Enterprise Editorial Board
Sept. 10, 2015

It’s not going away.

Opiate and heroin deaths are mounting. The dead are piling up outside our doors. It will not go away without continued effort in our communities.

This week we feature a spate of stories about opiate addiction. From the continuing efforts and testaments of parents and friends who have lost loved ones to addiction, to the often hidden danger of drug use at the workplace, we spotlight what is an unrelenting source of heartache and tragedy here in Lake Country, and across the nation.

The Stairway to Heroin series continues at 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Oconomowoc Arts Center with a fourth installment titled “Playgrounds to Pills...Prevention Begins With Parents.”

The installment will focus on parents’ roles in setting a foundation for a drugfree lifestyle for their children.

It includes: Teaching resiliency and refusal skills at an early age Childhood brain development and its impact on decision-making skills Parenting strategies that make a difference including monitoring, having difficult conversations and setting boundaries A review of the Oconomowoc Area School District’s random drug testing policy The Stairway to Heroin series is a great place to begin to understand the various aspects of combatting the opiate problem. It is free and open to all ages. We encourage everyone to attend the presentation.

Just a few days ago a female died in the Town of Ottawa. Her death is being investigated as an overdose. In an affidavit connected to a search warrant police wrote that her “appendages were covered” in needle marks.

It’s a horrible image, a young woman ravaged by addiction, her future erased.

With increased potency through the addition of synthetic opiates like Fentanyl, heroin use is increasingly risky, and authorities are prosecuting more and more people through the Len Bias law, which holds those who provided a drug to an overdose victim responsible for that person’s death.

It’s part of the solution, but not the complete answer.

As we’re sure you’ll learn if you attend the Stairway to Heroin event, it starts at home with your young children.

We see our children as innocent and beautiful, and they are. But we cannot ignore reality. Drug use has to be nipped at the earliest of buds.

The conversation really does begin at home.

Wisconsin lawmaker readies quartet of anti-heroin measures

Associated Press
Sept. 9, 2015

MADISON — A Republican lawmaker whose daughter has struggled with a heroin addiction announced Tuesday he plans to introduce another round of legislation focusing on opiate prescriptions that can lead to heroin abuse.

Rep. John Nygren of Marinette spearheaded seven bills designed to curtail heroin abuse and help addicts recover last session. He told reporters during a news conference Tuesday he has four more bills ready to go. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, Dr. Tim Westlake, vice chairman of the state Medical Examining Board and a member of the state’s controlled substance board, and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel all stood with Nygren in a show of support.

Nygren said the new bills are designed to attack the root of the problem — addictions to opiate prescriptions that pave the path to heroin.

“As we said last session, there were no silver bullets contained in those seven pieces of legislation,” Nygren said. “We knew that we had more that needed to be done.”

The new legislation would require anyone who dispenses opiates to enter the prescriptions in a statewide tracking database within 24 hours rather than the seven days currently allowed under state law. Doctors would be required to check the database before prescribing opiates. Nygren said those moves could help identify addicts and doctors who are overprescribing.

Police who discover an opiate prescription at the scene of an overdose would have to enter the prescription in the database and notify the prescribing physician of the incident.

The package also would create registries for pain and methadone clinics. Nygren said little is known about how such clinics operate.

Nygren’s daughter, Cassie, has battled a heroin addiction for several years. She was sentenced to a year and a half in prison in 2009. She pleaded guilty this past March to felony narcotic possession and was sentenced to drug court.

Nygren has often cited her story in his push to advance anti-heroin legislation. His bills last session included measures that funded additional treatment facilities; established immediate punishments for parole and probation violators and immunity for anyone who reports an overdose; and allowed first-responders with training to administer Narcan, a drug that counteracts heroin overdoses. Gov. Scott Walker signed the proposals into law last spring after all seven bills passed the Assembly and Senate unanimously.

Panel describes drug use in the workplace
Schimel, Opper, others urge employers to be vigilant, proactive
By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff
Sept. 4, 2015

BROOKFIELD - Imagine an employee who is using the workers’ compensation he is receiving because of a workplace injury to get prescription painkillers, which he is then selling to co-workers. This was a situation that attorney Charles Palmer advised a client on and is similar to scenarios playing out in the area as the abuse of prescription drugs and use of heroin increases.

“By the time you have an addict, it’s too late,” Palmer, a partner with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP in Waukesha said. “You need to catch this early.”

Catching an employee who is illegally using a substance can be difficult, and how the company can then respond is complex. A panel of experts shared their insights and advice during a Waukesha County Business Alliance AMP! meeting Thursday in Brookfield.

Brian McKaig, vice president of marketing and communications for United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, left, asks questions regarding the effects of drug use in the workplace of an expert panel: Charles Palmer, partner with Michael Best & Friedrich, second from left; Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper, second from right; and Michael Borkowski, doctor of occupational medicine for Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin, right.  
Katherine Michalets/Freeman Staff

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel first addressed the audience by explaining the extent of heroin use and opiate abuse in Wisconsin and the area.

“It’s the worst public crisis I’ve seen,” he said. “It’s a full-blown health crisis. It’s also an economic crisis for our state, as well as the nation.”

There are about 163,000 intravenous drug users in Wisconsin, Schimel said, explaining that the state’s resources are overwhelmed with the problem.

“This addiction is more powerful than anything we’ve seen,” he said.

Among those dealing with opiate and heroin problems, Schimel said, are intelligent people who had perfect grade-point averages.

He said he knows a man who owns three restaurants and interviews about 300 people every year for staff positions because so many people are fired for drug use or because they don’t show up to work because of their addictions.

Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said addressing the problem is comparable to a marathon and not a sprint. A heroin addiction can cost a person about $100 to $150 per day, and painkillers cost even more.

“You are going to be stealing from your employers, I can assure you. You are going to be stealing from your family,” she said.

Palmer said firing an employee for using drugs can be difficult. He recommends wording employee policies to say that the illegal use of a substance versus use of an illegal substance may result in termination of employment. This wording would ensure that if people are abusing their prescription, they may face termination.

He advises company representatives to seek legal advice should they suspect an employee of illegally using a substance, because there are other laws that may apply and must be evaluated, such as the American Disability Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“You can fire people but it depends on the timing and the details under which it occurs,” Palmer said.

Michael Borkowski, a doctor of occupational medicine for Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, recommended that employers work closely with an occupational wellness doctor to help select the correct drug tests to perform and a medical review officer to analyze the drug tests.

If an employee is arrested on suspicion of drug use or dealing, Palmer said, employers cannot fire that person for that reason because they are innocent until proven guilty. He encourages employers to do their own research to determine whether the suspected employee was dealing onsite. But, he said, it’s important for a company not to try and act like a police officer because of other potential unintended legal consequences.

When discussing suspicious activity with employees, Borkowski advised using a caring tone. Although the employee may seem to be high on drugs, she may in fact be diabetic and suffering from low-blood sugar levels, he said.

Job performance and workplace behaviors may be signs indicating possible workplace drug problems. Here are some signs to watch for.

Job performance

-Inconsistent work quality

-Poor concentration and lack of focus

-Lowered productivity or erratic work patterns

-Increased absenteeism or on the job “presenteeism”

-Unexplained disappearances from the job site

-Carelessness, mistakes or errors in judgment

-Needless risk taking

-Disregard for safety for self and others; on the job and off the job accidents

-Extended lunch periods and early departures


Workplace behavior

-Frequent financial problems

-Avoidance of friends and colleagues

-Blaming others for own problems and shortcomings

-Complaints about problems at home

-Deterioration in personal appearance or personal hygiene

-Complaints, excuses and time off for vaguely defined illnesses or family problems

-Source: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.


Heroin, opiate deaths appear to be declining in county
Seven so far this year
By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff
July 10, 2015

WAUKESHA — A new study found there are almost 300,000 more heroin users nationwide now than a decade ago, but the number of opiate-related deaths in Waukesha County appears to be trending downward through the first half of 2015.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this week, nearly three in every 1,000 Americans said they had used heroin in the past year. That’s up from under two per 1,000 about a decade ago — a 62 percent increase which translates to hundreds of thousands more people — government researchers said.

While total usage is rising across the country, the number of overdose deaths appears to be slowing down, at least locally.

Through the first half of 2015, Waukesha County has seen seven drug-related deaths, according to data provided to The Freeman by the county Medical Examiner’s Office.

Of those, two cases involved heroin and four were related to other opiate medications. The other death was attributed to a “non-opiate medication combined with alcohol.”

While those are the official totals, the medical examiner’s office also has several cases awaiting completion of toxicology testing, but staff would not speculate on how many of those may be drug related.

With six months down in 2015, it appears the county’s total number of drug-related deaths is declining. Thirty- four people died in Waukesha County in 2014 either by accident, suicide or other undetermined manner relating to drugs — including 10 tied to heroin and 20 to opiates.

The county medical examiner also recorded 35 such deaths in 2013.

“We don’t seem to be — here in our community right now, anecdotally — seeing a big spike, but the abuse of heroin has dramatically increased from where it was 10 years ago,” Waukesha Fire Department Interim Chief Steven Howard said. “But we are not currently, and knock on some wood, seeing a dramatic spike.” The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner reported as many as 16 likely heroin-related deaths in one week earlier in July, but officials with the Waukesha office said no such trend had been seen locally.

So far this year, Howard said, his department has deployed naloxone — better known as Narcan, an opioid- inhibitor used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose — 29 times, a total that appears in line with recent history.

Through all of 2014, Howard’s department administered the drug 58 times. But Howard said not all of those were necessarily tied directly to a heroin overdose, as Narcan can also be used on people who accidentally over-medicated themselves.

The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department also completed training to use nasal Narcan early this year. But department spokeswoman Jennifer Wallschlaeger said the drug has only been administered once during 2015 — in June, on a 22-year-old man in the Town of Lisbon — as deputies often arrive at a scene after medical and fire personnel, who can provide the life-saving drug first.

CDC director: More people ‘primed for heroin use’

The CDC’s findings mirror trends seen in earlier reports, which noted marked increases in heroin use in white people living outside major cities, said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University epidemiologist who researches drug abuse issues.

But the new report offers some additional details about heroin users, government scientists said.

While heroin use more than doubled among the white population, it appears to have leveled off in other racial and ethnic groups, the report found.

But it grew among different income levels, in different parts of the country. And the rate of heroin use doubled in women — a more dramatic rise from what was seen in men.

For years, officials have worried about misuse of prescription opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. Experts say recent restrictions on prescribing such painkillers may be reducing illicit supplies of them at a time when the heroin supply has been increasing.

Heroin has become a popular alternative. It is essentially the same chemical as that in the prescription painkillers, but it costs roughly five times less on the street, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.

“An increasing number of people are primed for heroin use because they were addicted to an opioid painkiller,” Frieden said.

The new report found those who abused opioid painkillers were 40 times more likely to abuse heroin.

The heroin death rate quadrupled over a decade, reaching nearly 8,300 in 2013, with most of the fatal overdoses involving other drugs at the same time — most often cocaine. Deaths involving opioid painkillers have been leveling off, but continue to be more common than heroin-related deaths, government statistics show.

Contributing: The Associated Press


County loan to help jump start Sober Housing
$150,000, 0 percent loan to be given to Starting Point
By Denise Seyfer - News Graphic Staff
June 9, 2015

PORT WASHINGTON — The Ozaukee County Board last week unanimously approved a county loan of up to $150,000 to Starting Point of Ozaukee to help establish the county’s first sober house.

“The commitment of Ozaukee County can be seen by the County Board of Supervisors’ overwhelming support to provide a safe haven for those wanting to be clean of alcohol and drugs,” said Ozaukee County Sheriff James Johnson. “Their support is a big step in making a difference for these citizens on their road to recovery.”

Sober housing provides low-level, first-time drug and alcohol offenders a supportive place to live and gain employment or education, while undergoing further treatment.

Ozaukee County Human Services Director Michael Lappen said he supports the local development of sober-living houses as a tool to reduce relapse into substance use and recidivism into the criminal justice system.

The five-year loan will have 0 percent interest and come from the Department of Human Services’ undesignated fund balance.

As a major initiative spurred through the work of the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force, the establishment of the county’s first sober house addresses the “gap” in services and has countless community benefits, according to the approved resolution that includes: savings in future incarceration and court costs as recidivism rates are reduced, safer roads as fewer individuals are expected to drive under the influence, significant reductions in property crime, freeing up of taxpayer dollars, and ultimately, creating a better county.

The Heroin Task Force was created nearly a year and a half ago and consists of county and community leaders and citizens as well as local law enforcement, all working to stop the addiction cycle through education, prevention programs and policy changes.

“(While) we do not have an exact property in mind, we do have many strong possibilities and have received support from community members, realtors in looking for places,” said Starting Point Executive Director Shea Halula.

He said the “ideal place would be a side-by-side duplex with two separate living quarters,” and should be close to job opportunities, grocery stores and transportation. Transportation for residents, however, could also be provided through the house manager and Treatment and Diversion Program grant funds, Halula said.

Starting Point is looking for an approximate five-bedroom home to house six-to-eight residents and a live-in, on-site manager.

Residents will be referred to the sober house by a variety of sources such as TAD Program coordinator Kerry Young, county District Attorney Adam Gerol, county judges and the Sheriff’s Office as well as through family and self-referrals, the business plan said.

Once individuals are accepted into the house, they are required to participate in the TAD program regardless of the referral. This action allows for additional support through case management that consists of a variety of support and educational groups, drug testing, transportation to job placements, treatment and positive social support since absolute sobriety is expected, according to the sober housing business plan.

Weekly house meetings will occur, enhancing resident accountability and requiring robust week-to-week occupancy agreements that have absolute rules of participation to generate higher success rates, Lappen said.

By using Young’s services through the TAD program and an on-site manager, residents will have strong support with these two positions to stay clean, get and keep a job, and transition back to the community to become a productive citizen, Lappen added.

“What we need is the community to understand the importance of this place as these individuals currently do not have a place to stay,” Halula said. “What we need are businesses to step forward and provide a second chance to these individuals by offering jobs, donations to the house and be accepting in the community.”

Denise Seyfer can be reached at .

‘We have to care about people in order for them to change’
Recovering addict speaks about health care’s role in stopping addiction

By Matt Masterson - Enterprise Staff 

May 7, 2015

WAUKESHA — Waukesha County’s ongoing heroin and opioid crisis is often seen as strictly a law enforcement concern, but one recovering addict spoke with dozens of local doctors and health care workers about what they can do to help curb addiction.

Tyler Lybert, 28, a Hartland resident six years sober after more than a decade battling his addiction to alcohol, heroin and other drugs, appeared with his family Tuesday morning at Waukesha Memorial Hospital to discuss what role the medical field plays in opioid addiction.

The Lybert family — Tyler, parents Sandi and Rick, and sister, Ashleigh — created Your Choice, a drug and alcohol awareness program, to share how addiction can tear a family apart, and how sobriety brought it back together.

While doctors are limited in what they can reveal about a patient’s medical history, Tyler Lybert suggested speaking with families of those who could be abusing drugs to get more insight into what is happening in their lives.

“Even if they are just in for pain management or something and you feel there is something going on,” he said, “being able to talk to their family or parents or somebody around them to see what else is going on outside their environment can be extremely helpful.”

Sandi Lybert said her son received medication often, but because she was not allowed to consult with his doctors, she never knew what he was getting or how often he would use it.

“Never once as a family were we involved,” she said. “So I would say ‘What happened, Tyler?’ and of course he didn’t say a word, so we went home and nothing changed.”

Data from the 2014 Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drug Use, released earlier this year, shows that between January and June of 2013, there were 841 prescriptions per 1,000 population in Waukesha County.

The profile 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.

Tyler Lybert described addicts as not only the most manipulative people, but also some of the most believable. He said he could lie his way through any situation with doctors to trick them into believing he wasn’t going to abuse any medicine they prescribed to him.

But the difference came from doctors who didn’t see him as just another patient.

“I think as physicians and treatment providers, you have this normality that sort of happens where they are no longer people,” Tyler Lybert said. “The one thing I learned from going through all the physicians and all that, is the ones who cared and treated me like a person and not just another number made a much bigger impact.

“I understand this is your job and it can be monotonous at times, but we have to care about people in order for them to change.”

Mixed feelings on Narcan

Naloxone, better known as Narcan, an opioid- antagonist used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, has undoubtedly saved lives in Waukesha County and beyond, but its overall impact is still unclear.

Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper and Metro Drug Unit Commander Frank McElderry, who also spoke during Tuesday’s presentation, showed the relationship between increased Narcan use and the number of heroin deaths remains uncertain.

“When you start coming back down on the overdose deaths, is that because of better awareness and training or was that because more Narcan, or naloxone, is available?” McElderry asked. “We are trying to figure this out.”

Opper said she has mixed feelings on Narcan. While it has saved lives, she said she has also seen several homicide cases where a friend on scene was too busy trying to administer Narcan, rather than calling 911 for help.

“I think it gives them a false sense of security that, ‘Oh, I can use heroin all I want because I have this magic elixir in my pocket in the form of Narcan and if something happens to me I’ll just inject the Narcan and I’ll be fine,’” she said.

“I appreciate that it is saving lives, I truly do, but I am also concerned about that false sense of security that it is offering to the addicts.”

Opper was appointed as district attorney in February, taking over for state Attorney General Brad Schimel. Last year, Schimel told The Freeman he did not buy into the “invincibility argument,” as he called it, that Narcan gives addicts any added sense of security.

“Experience has taught me that whether the antidote is available or not, (heroin addicts) will use,” he told The Freeman last May. “They are not making rational decisions and they do not believe they are going to overdose.”


Opper:‘Tremendous strides’ made on heroin awareness, but work remains
DA encourages public to utilize upcoming drug collection day
By Arthur Thomas- Freeman Staff
April 25, 2015

WAUKESHA — Heroin and prescription drug abuse still remains “the issue facing Waukesha County,” District Attorney Susan Opper said Friday morning, but there have also been “tremendous strides” made in increasing awareness of the problem.

Like her predecessor, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, Opper stressed the need for prevention. She urged parents to keep prescription medicine locked up and to utilize drug collection days like the one planned for May 16. She also said the pills teens choose to take can go beyond those meant for humans.

“We’ve seen many, many times kids taking the prescription medication for your pets,” Opper said during the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s One-on-One with Public Officials event.

Opper said parents of teens who become addicted to painkillers or heroin might be unaware in some circumstances, but many are painfully aware of their children’s issues. “It’s not that they sticking their heads in the sand,” Opper said. “It’s the worst nightmare.”

Opper also said doctors need to develop more awareness. She highlighted former Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre’s struggles with painkillers as the first time she really recognized the addictive potential of pain pills.

She said her doctor recently offered her Vicodin for a sinus infection and she has dealt with families of former high school athletes who started on pain pills for a sports injury.

“Please don’t think I’m doctor bashing, because I’m not. This is a problem we have to deal with on all levels,” Opper said, adding she feels doctors want to do what they can to help their patients.

‘The most awful life in the world’

She continually stressed the importance of prevention, noting that “nobody is a heroin user” as opposed to being addicted.

Opper recounted a case she prosecuted a few years ago where three young adults were testifying about their daily routines as heroin addicts. The days would include stealing from and lying to friends and family, scrounging for scrap metal or other possible sources of money, and then going to Milwaukee to get heroin. She said the accounts was not unique to the case.

“That’s your life,” said Opper. “Everyday you wake up and you just have to hustle to get 20 bucks together, find a way to get yourself down to Milwaukee, get back and shoot up. That’s your day. Then you go to sleep and the next day you start all over again.

“Can you imagine that? Isn’t that the most awful life in the world?”

The individuals in that case are still using heroin today, Opper said, underscoring the challenges of shaking such an addiction.

While drug treatment courts have had some success, Opper said there are funding issues and the number of people the program can handle is a “drop in the bucket.”

She didn’t have an exact estimate for the number of heroin addicts in the county, but thought it might be from 500 to 1,000, based on her experience. Of those, she estimated 25 percent would be able to get clean.

Opper also doesn’t think media coverage of the heroin issue has gone too far.

“Sometimes I’m a little cautious of what I see in the media. Not on this issue, they have been spot on from what I’ve seen,” she said. “I don’t think they overstate the situation.”



Fighting heroin addiction
County drug task force preparing multistage attack on opioid crisis
By Matt Masterson - Daily News
April 16, 2015

WAUKESHA — 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 addicts.

‘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 community.

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 success.

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 overdose.

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.”



Bill could reclassify opioids
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   

A bill 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 abuse.

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  

PORT 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 Protective Services.

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 are high.”

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 clubs.

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 goal.”

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 into classes.”

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 following.

“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.”

Denise Seyfer can be reached at .

Students will face random drug tests next year
School Board passes policy including middle schoolers in program
By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff
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 present Tuesday.   
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 meeting.

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 meeting.

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 unavailable.

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 today.”


‘Let’s 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 recovery.        
Matt Masterson/Freeman Staff

PEWAUKEE — 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 or friend.

“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 and finances.”

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.”


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 torture.

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. 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
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

Kelly Krueger of West Bend cringes when her phone rings late at night.

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 painkiller.

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 not responding.

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.
Posted 02-20-2015


Heroin, opiate deaths remain steady in 2014
Nearly three dozen died in Waukesha County last year due to drugs
By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff
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 substances.

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 abuse.”

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 or negative.

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 problem.

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 community.

“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.”


OASD drug 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 inaccurate.

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 board.

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.


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