helps those with addiction issues get clean, stay sober
By Ralph Chapoco
Jan. 4, 2019
WEST BEND — Given the persistent
issue of opioids in the area, Washington County officials have
partnered with representatives from Elevate Inc. and the justice
system to offer a treatment alternatives and diversion program to
address the matter.
The program is
in the 18th month of its tenure, operating at near capacity. Geena
Laabs, who had her case dismissed Wednesday after successful
completion of the program, is the eighth person to graduate. There
are scores more who are enrolled and continue to make progress with
their treatment while others have discontinued the program. “We are
100 percent in favor of it,” said Sandra Giernoth, the assistant
district attorney for the Washington County District Attorney’s
Office. “Our office participated in the core group that helped
establish the program and has supported it from its start.”
amounts to a paradigm shift for some in the area. Traditionally,
individuals charged with possession of a controlled substance,
absent a valid prescription, will be prosecuted and if convicted,
face a host of potential punishments, including fines and
incarceration. There is also the option for probation.
Christine Zimmermann with Elevate presents Geena Laabs
with a plaque after graduating from the TAD program
Wednesday morning at the Washington County Courthouse in
West Bend. Laabs graduated the Treatment Alternative
Diversion (TAD) program put on by Elevate that assists
those with opioid use disorder.
enrolled in the program are presented with an opportunity to defer
their prosecution to address their addiction, and provided they meet
the requirements outlined, may have their case dismissed — offering
them a chance that some believe the criminal justice system is ill
equipped to provide.
“This is an
alternative that focuses on their treatment needs in the community
with resources that are available to address alcohol or other drug
abuse, or mental health, or co-occurrence issues, and those
resources are limited in the criminal justice system,” Giernoth
can work in conjunction with treatment, as will paying a fine — but
those options do not address their ongoing issues with addiction.
Giernoth added that incarceration places individuals in an
artificial setting because it is controlled.
mimics the natural environment complete with stressors and triggers
that could complicate their sobriety.
In the past,
diversion was offered to those with operating while intoxicated
charges. Provided they meet their goals, those enrolled could be
offered less severe penalties.
alternatives and diversion for opioids became available a couple of
years ago when state representatives changed the requirements of the
grant money provided to the public to address their growing concerns
related to the opioid epidemic.
To adhere to the
modified requirements, county officials and those in the criminal
justice system, collaborated to establish a similar program for
those impacted by opioids.
from Elevate were awarded the contract to manage the program when
working with clients.
subject to intense treatment and case management. Clients undergo a
screening and assessment process by Elevate staff.
“At that time,
we collect their drug use history, their treatment history,” Case
Manager Christine Zimmermann said. “At that time, we determine what
their needs are. A lot of times when they come in, besides having a
primary diagnosis of substance abuse, they may be experiencing
homelessness, medical issues, things like that.”
Andrew Freeman with Elevate takes notes before Geena
Laabs’ deferred prosecution agreement hearing Wednesday
morning at the Washington County Courthouse in West
Bend. Laabs graduated the Treatment Alternative
Diversion (TAD) program put on by Elevate that assists
those with opioid use disorder.
Clients are then
connected to resources, including primary treatment, as well as
transportation or any other needs they have. To address their
substance abuse issues, patients can be referred to an inpatient
facility or on an outpatient basis. “That was just necessary for
me,” Laabs said. “I had never lived in society like that before. I
had no idea what I was doing before in my past … There was never any
responsibility or anything like that.”
monitored for drug and alcohol use continuously, and ongoing case
management is offered to enhance their stability — hopefully placing
them on a path to sobriety.
“Just by seeing
how it has benefitted her, and everything that she has accomplished
in just a short time, I think it would have been a good way for me
to have that kind of direction because when I got out, the
decision-making process is very hard for an addict and I didn’t know
what direction to go,” said Martina Laabs, Geena’s sister, who is
also in recovery.
She was not
admitted into the program.
support, not everyone completes the program successfully. With Laabs
included as part of the statistics, the success rate, those who have
graduated versus those who have been admitted, totals about 14
According to the
numbers provided by Elevate staff, 76 clients have been referred to
the program. Fifty-six have been admitted and 19 have been
discharged because of noncompliance.
respects, the calculation presents an unnaturally low figure because
there are people enrolled in treatment and diversion who will
eventually increase the number. However, it also speaks to the
nature of the issue and the obstacles that hinder success.
Giernoth said she believed coordinating committee members projected
a failure rate of 80 percent but added those figures do not temper
her support for the program because of the need.
“It is like
playing a sport against a team with all the cards, all of the
skills, the best players on the team, and you are just trying to
make a couple of baskets,” Giernoth said. “The odds are stacked
against the individuals in the program, they are stacked against the
individuals who run the program by the nature of the addiction that
we are battling.”
Elevate’s director of intervention programs, provided a 2014 study
conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health
Institute, indicating that 66 percent of treatment alternatives
participants successfully completed the program. About 90 percent of
those who participated were not admitted to the state prison system
after three years of receiving their discharge from the program. It
also stated the net benefit per discharge was about $2,900.
TAD at different stages of being ready to make the changes necessary
to begin the road to recovery,” Elevate’s Executive Director Mary
Simon said. “Some are more ready to take advantage of the
opportunities presented to them through this program than others.
For those who are less ready, our goal when they enter the program
is to motivate them to appreciate the opportunity they have been
given and have hope that they too can enter recovery.”
treatment program helps woman make positive life change
By Ralph Chapoco
Jan. 3, 2019
WEST BEND —
Geena Laabs, without the presence of her attorney, sat at the
defendant’s table Wednesday in one of the courtrooms of the
Washington County Courthouse.
Behind her was
a cadre of people who defined much of her support group for the past
year: her father, parole official and representatives from Elevate
Inc. who have assisted her as she sought to stabilize her life.
prosecuting attorney, Sandra Giernoth, sitting at an adjacent table,
Laabs faced the presiding judge as he rendered his verdict regarding
“This case is
dismissed,” the Honorable James Pouros said with an expression of
pride on his face that contrasted the countenance he displayed
earlier that morning.
Laabs to rise from her seat, shake Giernoth’s hand and walk toward
the courtroom’s exit, to the awaiting smiles of those who had
comprised her cheering section for the past 12 months, hoping to
never again return and face the criminal justice system she had been
accustomed to for parts of her adult life.
Geena Laabs smiles as she poses for a portrait with her
6-day-old baby, Delilah Manchek, on Tuesday afternoon at
their home in East Troy. Laabs will be graduating from
the Treatment Alternative Diversion (TAD) program put on
by Elevate. The program assists those with opioid use
The series of
episodes marked the culmination of a milestone that she, along with
her friends and loved ones, had been preparing for during the prior
year. Laabs represents a handful of graduates of the treatment
alternatives and diversion program that began in Washington County
about 18 months ago.
She entered the
courtroom last year under different circumstances than when she left
Wednesday, the time when she was offered the opportunity to enter
process began with a drug charge. She had been living with her
ex-boyfriend at the time and during September of 2017, both made the
decision to begin treatment for their addiction.
“We shared a
dog together, and I said, ‘You can go detox and I will take care of
the dog in the home, and then you can come back, and I will go,’”
returned, came to the door and was angry, asking to be let in to the
home. Laabs refused, unwilling to endure an incident when he was
angry. That prompted a call to the police department, and officers
were dispatched to the scene.
They began an
investigation into the incident and located the illicit substances
in the apartment. She was then charged, incarcerated and began
experiencing withdrawals while in jail. Laabs was released on bail,
but continued to use heroin.
In November 2017,
as she was going through the court process, she overdosed and was
placed on the treatment alternatives program.
of the same year, she attended to her first treatment alternatives
appointment and was told she could not fail her drug test.
Two days later
Her father found
her passed out on the floor and called first responders to the
scene. On their way to the location, Laabs revived on her own and
waited to be transported to the hospital.
“I sat on my
bed, waiting for them to come, knowing I had drugs out, all this
stuff out, but it didn’t bother me,” Laabs said. “I just didn’t care
Geena Laabs smiles kisses her 6-day-old baby, Delilah
Manchek, while posing for a portrait Tuesday afternoon
at their home in East Troy. Laabs will be graduating
from the Treatment Alternative Diversion (TAD) program
put on by Elevate. The program assists those with opioid
treatment at the hospital, Laabs spent time with her parents before
she was set to be transported to jail because of the drug
paraphernalia that was found in her room.
“Both of them
came in the room in the hospital and sat down with me, told me they
loved me, they were here for me,” Laabs said. “I just begged them to
bail me out right away. ‘I promise I will go rehab. I will do this.’
All these promises to make to get out of what you were in.”
because the incident was a repeat of other episodes as Laabs
struggled with her illness — claiming about a decade of her life.
Left to remain
in jail for the next 21 days, in her cell, laying on her bunk and
listening to the radio that jail administrators provided her, Laabs
reflected on what had happened.
“First of all, I
had enough time locked up, enough clean time, where I could make a
decision for myself to get clean and stay clean,” Laabs said. “I
could reason for myself.”
She also had
enough. In the past she had imagined the life she could have had
without her dependence and be free to accomplish what she could.
“I wanted to be
somebody,” Laabs said. “I wanted to be somebody important,
successful, have meaningful relationships. I wanted a purpose and I
wanted to find answers to questions that I had all my life, as I
lived and came along. I wanted to be happy and find happiness.” Upon
her release, she began to seriously pursue sobriety via the yearlong
treatment alternatives program, which involved a meeting with Andrew
Freeman, the director of intervention programs, and case manager
Christine Zimmermann. The prize for graduating, the chance to have
her case dismissed — almost as if it didn’t happen.
twice weekly meetings requiring a drug test as well as progress
There were also
intensive outpatient sessions five days each week for five hours
each day, learning how to cope with difficulties alongside others
who are addicted to heroin.
problems,” Laabs said. “Everything was open for discussion. Whatever
you felt comfortable talking about, relationships or something you
went through that day or a trigger you had.”
experiences became the groundwork from which Laabs would reconstruct
her life, scaffolding accomplishments from those experiences. She
obtained her driver’s license after a couple of months, then a job
about one month after that. Laabs then gained a second job. From
there, she decided to enroll in college to earn her degree.
In a series of
seemingly small accomplishments, Laabs captured the life she wanted,
the one she thought about when lying on her bed, pondering about her
capabilities without the addiction.
the bailiff who maintained order in the room to the legal
professionals who managed the proceedings, the network of
individuals who accompanied her, even Laabs herself, began to
realize the magnitude of the changes she implemented as Pouros read
a letter that listed — and highlighted — the accomplishments she
“I wish we had
someone like you every day so that the prosecutors would not get
depressed with their work, so defense lawyers would not get
depressed, so the judge would also not be suffering anxiety,” Pouros
said. “This is a really wonderful thing and I am glad you did it. It
sounds like you have a lot of good things going for you.”
discuss opioid epidemic at annual legislative breakfast
By Ralph Chapoco
Dec. 8, 2018
WEST BEND — A few state officials
were in Washington County to learn more about opioids and how it is
impacting the local community.
Representatives from Elevate Inc., a nonprofit located in Jackson,
hosted their legislative breakfast Friday at Terrace 167 in the
village of Richfield, inviting both current and incoming legislators
to hear testimony regarding a range of issues related to the
The gathering has become an annual affair, attended by
administrators and elected officials from the various municipalities
throughout the area. In the past, the events were generally referred
to as legislative breakfasts, but this year staff decided to rename
the event as the Bob Gannon Memorial Legislative Breakfast.
Gannon was a legislator who passed away in October of 2017.
Terry Bogues, the operator of Terrace 167, addresses the
crowd at the beginning of the event Friday at the
village of Richfield with a photograph of her son, Greg
Bergeron, in the background, who passed away because of
an addiction to opioids. The Bob Gannon Memorial
Legislative Breakfast was hosted by representatives from
Elevate Inc. and the Washington County Heroin Taskforce
to educate legislators about issues surrounding the
opioid epidemic in the area.
The event began with a presentation
by Adam Kindred, the director of prevention services with Elevate,
who provided a sense of the magnitude of the impact of the opioid
According to facts he cited, the economic cost to society is
estimated at more than $740 billion on an annual basis. That total
was compiled based on crimes that were committed because of drug
addiction and lost productivity at the workplace.
“When we break those numbers down, and part of it has to do with the
opioid crisis, but the vast majority of that number is attributed to
alcohol and tobacco use in our society,” Kindred said. ‘I think that
is interesting because it speaks to the importance of prevention.”
He also quoted that in 2011, 74 percent of substance abuse treatment
admissions began their substance abuse prior to 17 years old.
Kindred was followed by Michelle Simpson, identified as a concerned
parent whose child is living with an opioid addiction.
“Shortly before Abigail’s 18th birthday while a senior in high
school, the very short version is that she went from choosing among
four colleges that she was admitted to, playing competitive
volleyball since the age of 13, had lifelong friends, to Tom and I
trying to locate her because she would disappear for days. She was
truant from school, really barely graduated.”
From there, the attention turned to Sandra Giernoth, the assistant
district attorney for Washington County, who described for
legislators how the law can function in terms of an opioid case.
Wisconsin bill 2017 Act 33 was passed to allow for immunity for
those involved in an opioid case within certain circumstances.
Generally, people do not abuse opioids on an individual basis, and
typically consume the substance in a different location for where
they obtained it.
What can occur is that one individual suffers an overdose while the
remaining individuals do not. The regulation is meant to offer
immunity for those who do not overdose and notify authorities and
allow first responders to assist with the situation.
The statute is meant to encourage users who have not overdosed to
notify authorities of their situation should an overdose occur in
“However, I would tell you that I think that its utility in practice
has some adverse effects that the legislature should be aware of,”
In one case, two individuals had purchased opioids and one
experienced an adverse reaction while the other did not use. The
other person called the authorities but impeded the investigation
when law enforcement and other first responders when the person was
asked about the situation, claiming it was medical condition.
“I think as people we can understand why that individual may have
answered that way,” Giernoth said. “That subject was afraid for his
own welfare and I understand that, but the net effect of that was to
impede the officers’ investigations with regards to rendering
emergency aid to a subject who was experiencing a near-death
Another example she cited involved three individuals who purchased
opioids from a source and one experienced an overdose. The two
remaining subjects chose to drive the individual to Washington
County and left the person in a business parking lot in the
overnight hours in the vehicle alone — resulting in the person’s
“At least in my opinion not because they are awful, horrible people,
but because I think this is an example of individuals who lack those
norms and lack that rational thinking that we have on a regular
basis as a result of their addiction,” Giernoth said.
The statute also provides a deferred prosecution agreement for those
charged with abusing opioids that includes a treatment component.
Should the individual complete the necessary requirements, then
dismissal or reduction of charges is possible.
However, there are conditions for that immunity which cannot be
meant through no fault of the individual. Defendants are offered a
treatment alternatives and diversion option as part of the deferred
This applies to individuals who are on supervision with the
department of corrections but may or may not live in the county.
Prosecutors will then use resources available at the department of
corrections but that is not best practice because the services they
are receiving the same services after the overdose will be the same
as what they receive before the overdose occurred.
There are others who do not reside in the county and are not on
supervision with the department of corrections. They are not
eligible for treatment alternatives and diversion because they do
not reside in the county. Giernoth also said she cannot access
resources with the department of corrections because they are not on
supervision. That essentially limits the available options.
Michelle Hetebrueg with the department of corrections followed,
requesting additional resources, different options for treatment,
including in a confined setting.
After listening to the experts, the personal anecdotes of those
affected by the disease, it was the elected officials turn to
“I do know we made some advances in terms of making more resources
available from Medicaid dollars, tied to some waivers and I think
some of that is coming in the future,” State Sen. Duey Stroebel
officials update on opioid treatment program
By Ralph Chapoco
Oct. 23, 2018
WEST BEND — With several committee
members serving as Washington County supervisors for the first time,
administrators wanted to provide them with an overview of the
treatment alternatives and diversion service that was implemented 15
Andrew Freeman, the program coordinator for Elevate Inc., spoke to
several aspects of the opioid treatment program during the Human
Services Board meeting Thursday, providing insight into the
enrollment figures, the criteria for recruiting participants and
details about the curriculum.
“Really the whole point of the TAD program is to use cross-system
collaboration to address a county-wide problem with a very specific
target population,” he said.
There have been a total of 70 referrals and admissions for treatment
and diversion. Of those, 48 have decided to participate. Thirteen
declined and nine have their admissions pending.
Of those who opted to participate, 29 continue to be enrolled in the
program. There were 16 discharged and one voluntarily withdrew. Only
two have graduated thus far.
Members of the Human Services Board meeting listen to a
presentation Thursday from Andrew Freeman from Elevate
Inc. regarding the opioid treatment alternatives and
diversion program that was implemented about 15 months
According to the accompanying
report, the program is about one year in length with a possible
extension based on the participation. To qualify for treatment and
diversion, the individual must be a Washington County resident, be
at least 17 years old and not be classified as a violent offender.
They must also have a current pending charge or previous conviction
for distribution of narcotic drugs and meet certain requirements
related to substance abuse and have other psychological needs.
“We all know the
opioid problem is affecting multiple areas in Washington County,”
He based that
conclusion on information that was part of his presentation. During
2016, there were 23 deaths in the area related to overdoses, for
2018 it is 27 with the potential to increase with a few months left.
In 2016, there were 10 arrests for possession of heroin with intent
to distribute. For 2017, that figure increased to 36.
“TAD takes place
from the time the client enters the DPA (deferred prosecution
agreement) until sentencing, or hopefully if they complete,
dismissal of their charge,” Freeman said.
He presented a
flowchart of the judicial process related to opioids, from the
arrest to conviction. In it, Freeman highlighted that intervention
would occur at about the time of the plea deal or when the process
would continue with a trial. The slide also displayed the different
levels of care that a participant can expect, which can include
“For clients who
need medical detox, getting them into an actual hospital setting,
for medically-managed inpatient treatment, is incredibly important,”
Freeman said. “Especially for clients who are abusing various
substances, heroin, benzodiazepines, alcohol, other medications, we
want to make sure they are taken care of because withdrawal can be
consist of residential treatment not associated with a hospital, a
partial hospitalization that would entail several hours of treatment
each week, intense outpatient treatment for more than nine hours
each week, or simple outpatient services that would be less than
“In other words,
are these treatment programs costing these individuals any money?”
Supervisor Frank Carr asked.
varying levels of payment, depending on their insurance plan.
“The reason I am
interested in this, it may be an inducement for these people to
enter into the program if they actually have skin in the game by
paying something out of their pocket,” Carr said. “It may not. There
is the other side that, if it doesn’t cost them anything, they have
more money to buy heroin.”
clients a fee of $300 or $25 each month for access to the program
but have stipulated they will not be denied participation or
completion because of financial hardship.
the fee acts to provide an incentive to entice clients to complete
managed inpatient is the highest cost of care,” Human Services
Director Julie Driscoll said. “That is someone who is generally not
employed. That person is a heavy user. They simply cannot safely
stay in the community. Very few insurances pay for that. That is the
highest cost of care, but once people move down the levels of care,
they become employable, outpatient services are fairly inexpensive
Program in West Bend aims to educate public about heroin use
By Alex Beld
Oct. 5, 2018
WEST BEND — The West Bend School District has partnered
with Your Choice to Live Inc. to provide a free
community event to educate the public about heroin use.
presentation will address stopping use before it starts, helping
addicts, hope, loss and will detail how everyone from parents to
paramedics are affected by the opioid epidemic.
main focus is on prevention and education,” said Sandi Lybert,
founder of Your Choice. “And really raising the awareness and
providing knowledge to parents.”
Melanie Crandall, with Your Choice Prevention Education
holds a photo of her and her daughter, Alexis, in the
conference room of Your Choice on Thursday afternoon in
Hartland. Crandall will speak during the Stairway to
Heroin presentation at the West Bend high schools
Tuesday. Crandall lost Alexis to a heroin overdose when
she was 17 years old. For the last six years, Crandall
has talked about her experiences as a mother to
different age groups, from middle school students to law
Her son started
using marijuana and alcohol in sixth grade and later moved on to
called Stairway to Heroin, features the Lybert family and their
story about struggling with addiction. Lybert’s son used heroin
through his teen years and into his early 20s.
“My son has
been recovering from a heroin addiction almost 10 years,” Lybert
prevention is key as is understanding the progression of addiction.
treatment the family worked together and Lybert asked her husband
and kids if they would work together to go out and educate parents.
Lybert said she
didn’t want families to be in the situation they entered when
dealing with her son’s addiction.
“We felt very
alone, we felt very shunned,” Lybert said. “Actually we had no
Pupil Services Sharon Kailas said it also helps to have educators
know the signs of drug use or other issues so they can share that
information with parents.
“When kids are
in crisis the parents don’t know,” Kailas said.
Tyler Lybert speaks at a Stairway to Heroin presentation
in May 2015 with his family members, from left,
Ashleigh, Sandi and Rick, sitting on stage in Rockford,
A flyer for the
event said, “Parents are still the most powerful influence in their
children’s lives. Children who learn about the risks of drugs and
alcohol from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use than
those who don’t.”
Kailas said the
presentation is overwhelming and she was impacted by it after seeing
how addiction not only affects families, but service providers.
Sponsors of the
event include Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Delta
Defense, Aurora Health, United Way of Washington County and Rogers
The free event
will begin with a resource fair at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the West Bend
High Schools Silver Lining Arts Center, 1305 E. Decorah Road. The
presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. It is recommended that those who
want to attend register on the district website.
those who attend will walk away with a folder of information, which,
among other things, will address what to do when you find out your
child is an addict.
“The only way to
fight an epidemic is to understand and to have knowledge,” Lybert
Along with the
Lybert’s there will be four other speakers, each of which have been
affected by the opioid epidemic.
options for fighting drug addiction
Schimel, partners expand treatment court and diversion programs
By Brandon Anderegg
Aug. 29, 2018
WAUKESHA — A total of $6.5 million is now available for
50 Wisconsin counties and two tribes entering their
third year of a five-year grant cycle for treatment
courts and diversion programs, according to a press
Attorney General Brad Schimel, along with the Department of
Corrections, Health Services, Wisconsin State Courts, Wisconsin
Public Defenders Office and local partners, will expand available
treatment and diversion programs to combat the ongoing fight against
opioids and methamphetamine.
funding, better data collection, formal program standards, and more
training for treatment court and program staff, Wisconsin’s
Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) Program has expanded from
seven counties utilizing $700,000 in grant funding to 50 counties
and two tribes utilizing $6.5 million annually, according to a press
Schimel said in
the release he and other organizations recognize that while often
necessary, imprisonment cannot be the lone solution for addiction or
changing a person’s behavior. Schimel also said treatment courts
utilize accountability and allow offenders a chance to demonstrate
their commitment to sobriety. “After nearly 30 years as a
prosecutor, I can say, without reservation, that treatment courts
are the best thing the criminal justice system has ever done, and
it’s not only me that believes that,” Schimel said. “The fact is
district attorneys, police, social workers, public defenders and
everyone in between — we all agree.”
The TAD program
provides local jurisdictions with options to give offenders, as an
opportunity to enter diversion programs or treatment court programs,
a safe alternative to jail or prison confinement. These options
typically involve drug and/or alcohol abuse treatment, case
management, and other risk reduction services. Diverting nonviolent
offenders into substance abuse treatment keeps them out of jail and
correctional facilities — thereby saving bed space and taxpayer
dollars — as well as treating the underlying addiction that may have
influenced them to commit a crime or may contribute to future
criminal behavior, according to the release.
ongoing performance measurement and long-term evaluation of TAD and
related programs across the state, in 2017 the Wisconsin Department
of Justice launched a data collection and reporting system for
treatment courts and diversion programs called The Comprehensive
Outcome, Research and Evaluation (CORE) system.
The CORE system
provides an integrated tool to collect more detailed data on
treatment court and diversion program participants, which will allow
sites to regularly monitor the progress of their programs and track
that provides a next step
Opioid recovery coaches now available at local hospital
By Laurie Arendt
July 17, 2018
GRAFTON — For someone in the throes of an opioid
addiction, a trip to the emergency room after an
overdose is a life-or-death matter.
But so, too, is
how that addiction is addressed after the trauma has passed.
departments at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Washington County
and Summit are now offering the free ED2 Recovery program that
provides access to recovery coaches and community resources for
patients admitted with opioid-related addictions.
“When we have
someone admitted that we think could benefit from the program, we
call for a recovery counselor,” said Tanya Krueger, manager of
emergency services at Aurora Medical Center Grafton. “We don’t give
any personal information about the patient, but the counselor is
aware that the person has been admitted due to an opioid issue.”
counselor arrives, he or she waits in the hallway and the patient,
and his or her family, if they are present, is told that there is
someone available to talk with them to discuss available resources
and help that is available. Just Listen, a community recovery
organization, provides the recovery coaches for the Aurora Medical
The timing of
that intervention actually works well, said Susan Wegener, manager
of case management at Aurora Medical Center Grafton.
“It’s a point
generally are fairly open to listening,” she said. “They’re not
really feeling great about what they’ve experienced and are at least
open to talking over what their options are going forward.”
that the program is funded through a state program, which was signed
into law by Gov. Scott Walker. The funding, which was part of a
bipartisan effort to combat the state’s opioid crisis, targets
education and funds nonnarcotic treatment programs, among other
initiatives. The program is funded through a grant from Wisconsin
Voices for Recovery and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division
of Continuing Studies.
“This program is
really in its infancy,” said Krueger. “But it allows us to meet
people in real time, who are in a crisis, which results in a higher
program is new to the Grafton location, Krueger said that the
response rate is currently about 86 percent among those opioid
patients who have been offered it. The program went live in Grafton
at the beginning of July.
provides a tool to the Aurora staff that it didn’t have before.
“As the staff of
an Emergency Department, we now have something we can do,” she said.
“It’s an additional way for us to care for our patients after they
are through the crisis of an overdose.”
According to the
Centers for Disease Control, opioids are responsible for six out of
10 overdose deaths in the United States. The longer an addict uses
opioids, the higher his or her tolerance becomes to the drugs,
requiring more to achieve the same effect on the body. Addicts who
start out abusing prescription pain medication often switch to
heroin, which provides the same effects with a much cheaper price
Care was among the first systems in Wisconsin to join the ED2
Recovery Program in late 2017, with its locations in Manitowoc and
Sheboygan first rolling out the program.
ED2 Recovery have shown great outcomes for patients and our
communities,” said Dave Graebner, president of Aurora Medical Center
in Grafton and Washington County. “The opioid epidemic has impacted
every community in Wisconsin, and our hope for this new program is
to help patients in our area find the resources they need close to
Waukesha County joins federal opioid lawsuit
Multi-jurisdictional case takes aim at manufacturers, distributors
By Cara Spoto
July 17, 2018
WAUKESHA — Waukesha County has officially joined a
federal lawsuit targeting prescription drug
manufacturers and distributors some say are responsible
for the opioid epidemic.
Executive Paul Farrow and County Board Chairman Paul Decker
announced Monday that the county had joined many other government
entities around the country, seeking to recover costs associated
with the opioid crisis.
complaints, Waukesha’s lawsuit names a slew of big name companies.
The list of roughly a dozen defendants includes pharmaceutical
distributor Cardinal Health and drugmaker Purdue Pharma.
epidemic takes a toll on our communities and our justice system,”
Farrow said in a statement. “Local government has been forced to
respond by dedicating resources to drug prevention and treatment.
Waukesha County is using every tool necessary to stop the crisis,
which includes holding those responsible for it accountable.”
Filed in the
Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in
Milwaukee, Waukesha’s lawsuit will become part of the multi-district
litigation currently pending in the Northern District of Ohio,
according to a press release.
is represented by a national consortium of six law firms, led by
national firm Baron & Budd, P.C.
announcement comes about five months after the Waukesha County Board
voted to give county leaders the approval to move forward with
selecting outside legal counsel that would represent the county in a
lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
two-thirds of the counties across the state have filed lawsuits
against pharmaceutical companies, including Washington County. The
lawsuits accuse the companies of aggressively and fraudulently
marketing prescription opioid pain pills as safe and effective for
led to a drug epidemic in Wisconsin and around the nation, the
lawsuits allege. The companies have denied wrongdoing.
crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing our community
today,” Decker said in a Monday statement. “The Board of Supervisors
gave local government the tools to address the crisis on a new front
by passing the resolution that allowed us to file this lawsuit.”
Police take steps to protect from deadly drug
Fentanyl/heroin combination is a growing problem
By Joe VanDeLaarschot
June 23, 2018
HARTFORD — The Hartford Police Department has taken new
steps to protect its officers from a growing and deadly
menace — fentanyl. The powerful drug is being found in
heroin and in the possession of suspects in the area.
Administrator Steve Volkert said all of the department’s patrol
vehicles have been equipped within the last few days with personal
protective equipment for use when officers are dealing possible
will complete a training session on the potential dangers of
exposure, the use of the personal protective equipment (PPE) and the
proper disposal of that equipment,” Volkert said. “Officer Kali
Reiman assisted Sgt. Jim Zywicki in the creation of a training video
regarding the use of the PPEs.”
the website www.drugabuse.com,
a speck of fentanyl the size of a few grains of salt can kill.
Hartford Police Lt. Mike Cummings said the problems with fentanyl in
the area are growing.
dangerous. It’s about 100 times more potent than morphine,” Cummings
said. “The reason we’re seeing it now is that it’s being mixed with
heroin. One of the big things we’re seeing is that people who are
heroin users are buying heroin that has some fentanyl in it and it’s
so powerful that it’s killing them because the potency is so high
and they don’t know that there is fentanyl in it. Then there’s
another thing called carfentanyl which is even more powerful than
fentanyl and if either of those things are in there it’s got a real
lethal potential for the person.”
Lt. Mike Cummings and officer Kali Reiman unpack one of
the fentanyl kits to display each item Friday morning at
the Hartford Police Department. The police department
began carrying a new equipment kit to be used when
dealing with fentanyl. The kits were put together and
have been in use for about a week.
drugabuse.com, a unit of carfentanyl is 100 times as potent as the
same amount of fentanyl and 5,000 times as potent as a unit of
“If you get in
contact with it, it’s the same as a user, if you get it into your
system it’s going to knock you down and might kill you,” Cummings
said. “That’s why we’ve gone to the kits with the suit and the
respirator and that kind of thing for when we think we’re dealing
drugabuse.com, the scary thing is, fentanyl can be absorbed through
the skin or inhaled if it becomes airborne, putting responders — and
police dogs — in danger. The website said “with fentanyl, if an
officer is simply patting somebody down, or if they are getting a
little bit out to try to do a field test and it accidentally comes
in contact with the officer’s skin or the wind blows it in their
face, they could have a serious problem.”
all members of the department are in the process of reviewing the
training video. He said the department has also changed its policy
on how personnel deal with drugs.
A 50/50 mixture of vinegar and dish soap to be used as a
quick rinse item in the fentanyl kit seen on Friday
morning at the Hartford Police Department.
“For about the
past three to five months in our evidence processing area we have
several doses of Narcan available and now whenever we are processing
any kind of a drug as part of a complaint we are required to have
two people in the processing area,” Cummings said. “We have that
Narcan available in there as well because if someone comes in
contact with it and they start showing symptoms the other person can
give them a dose right away to negate it and get them to the
hospital right away.”
Narcan is the
brand name of a medication (naloxone) that is used to reverse an
carrier, CVMIC, recommends the use of the assembled kits, and a
variety of current resources were used to develop the training
program,” Volkert said.
substance abuse problem
Grant will allow county to study available services and fill the
By Melanie Boyung
June 21, 2018
PORT WASHINGTON — Local efforts to combat the rising
opioid epidemic are receiving a financial infusion to
analyze resources and the gaps between them.
Board this month approved several budget amendments to allow for
grants, including one to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health
Department. The WOPHD was awarded $15,500 by the Wisconsin Division
of Public Health Opioid Harm Prevention Program. According to a
staff report to the County Board, the grant is a competitive award
for public health agencies working on solutions to the opioid
to use the dollars to conduct a comprehensive analysis of available
services for substance abuse in both Ozaukee and Washington
counties. The intent is to use the analysis to identify achievable
interventions and programs to assist county residents,” the report
project will allow the WOPHD to determine existing gaps in the
counties’ current services; by evaluating everything that is
currently available – and what isn’t – the WOPHD will then be able
to plan for what programming and services should be created in the
future to offer residents more consistent and complete support and
“Results of the
gap analysis will define our counties’ substance use burden and
inform next steps in programming and intervention,” according to the
grant will be used to fund:
Key informant interviews conducted with assistance from the Center
for Population Health;
Training and orientation for the gap analysis process;
Meeting expenses for focus groups, interview and space rentals
during the analysis;
Mileage for staff;
Printing costs for the final gap analysis and the WOPHD Heroin
Office supplies needed to support the analysis project.
The County Board
also approved a grant through the Land and Water Management
Department at its last meeting. The $15,000 grant was awarded to the
Milwaukee River Watershed Clean Farm Families through a state grant
program; Ozaukee County Land and Water Management serves as the
group’s fiscal recipient and collaborator, so they may receive such
The money will
be used to further efforts of Milwaukee River Watershed Clean Farm
Families, a farmer-led group, to come up with pollution solutions
that reduce and prevent agricultural runoff into the environment
through voluntary participation of local farmers.
By Alex Beld
June 16, 2018
Every person’s story of addiction has its own twists and
downs and each path of recovery can get started for
What might be
surprising to some are stories of those who have come to Washington
County to get away from a problem that remains pervasive here.
moved up here last year,” said recovering addict Kyle, who requested
his last name not be used. “I moved up here to get away from it.”
surrounded by it up here, I don’t have people honking at me trying
to get me to try to buy their product,” recovering addict Dan Stone
Dan Stone of West Bend poses for a photo on June 6 in
his apartment in West Bend. Stone is currently in
recovery after an addiction to opioids including heroin.
He said he started using opioids when he was 11 years
old. Seeking recovery, he moved from Milwaukee to
Washington County and is approaching a year of being
Stone used to
live in Milwaukee and was in treatment 13 times before coming to
Exodus House in Kewaskum. Kyle often purchased heroin in Chicago and
came to Washington County to escape both the drug and legal trouble
Both of these
men, now in their late 20s, started using drugs before they were
teenagers and were using opiates before they graduated high school.
“I kind of
really liked the high,” Stone said. “It just kind of numbed
everything and life progressed and it got worse.”
intuitive that the longer somebody uses any opiates, the more likely
they are to become addicted to it, whether it’s for legitimate
medical purposes or if it’s to just get high,” said Dr. Mary Lewis,
St. Joseph’s Hospital Emergency Department medical director.
with pills and continued to use them for years until he couldn’t
find anymore. At 23, he made the switch to heroin.
“I could pretty
much get it anywhere,” Stone said.
At that point,
he was already years into an opiate addiction.
(use) has a whole lot of both minor and major side-effects —
certainly people lose their appetites when they’re on opiates and so
they lose weight and they become very thin in some circumstances,”
Lewis said. “They develop other gastrointestinal side-effects like
chronic constipation or chronic abdominal pain, sometimes nausea and
For someone who
doesn’t use heroin, one of the ways to obtain it may be unexpected.
“I would drive
around on the north side and I’d just get beeped at and then pull
over and then ‘you want a sample,’” Stone said.
The ease of
access, however, is not something new to the opiate epidemic. And if
he didn’t have money, finding samples was one way to use.
this is among some of the unexpected behaviors the demand for this
product has created.
“Heroin is the
one drug that if somebody died off of, that’s where people want to
go, and that’s really messed up,” Stone said about the culture of
Kyle would often
use in cycles, stopping for three months at a time, finding work,
getting money and starting to use again. He continued on this path
“I would just, I
guess, sabotage myself. I would just start picking up were I left
off,” Kyle said.
Stone also found
himself employed throughout much of the time when he was using, but
his employment wasn’t stable.
“I had jobs here
and there, but once I got really dope sick I wouldn’t want to go to
work or I’d call in,” Stone said.
“There’s a lot
of really common symptoms that people get when they are withdrawing
— they get sweaty, at the same time though they get goose bumps all
over so they feel cold,” Lewis said. “They, a lot of times, get some
nausea and vomiting and diarrhea along with that.”
addicts encountered legal trouble to varying degrees, have lost
people to opiates and eventually got tired of the cycle.
“I just couldn’t
do it no more. I was depressed, I was sick all the time withdrawing
and I was doing a lot of messed-up stuff,” Stone said. “Whatever I
could to get my drugs.”
As of April,
Kyle was seven months out from the last time he used heroin. In
July, it will be a year for Stone. He has worked with Exodus House
and other organizations in the area and Kyle is in a program with
Stone said he’s
noticed a difference with Exodus House from the other places he’s
visited. “They forced me to go to 12-step meetings, which I’m still
doing today, which really help,” he said.
Kyle said the
program with Elevate is keeping him in check. “I’m hoping a year of
keeping me in check will help me move forward,” he said. Neither of
them know anyone in the area using or dealing and, for the most
part, only know other people in recovery.
“You see other
people in recovery have what you want,” Stone said. “Now I have a
car, I have an apartment, I have a great job.”
Now that Stone
is clean, after nearly 18 years of drug use he can look ahead to his
HVAC apprenticeship. He has already served his probation time and
even was locked up.
Kyle is also
working, but has to deal with issues from his past after finishing
his program and saving some money for court costs.
“Right now I got
a warrant in Illinois ... that happened in 2014 and I’ve been hiding
from it,” Kyle said.
The warrant is
for an operating while intoxicated violation he picked up in
Illinois. It’s a $20,000 warrant.
“I need to take
care of it after this, that’s all I know,” Kyle said.
looking to get clean and sober, there is help out there.
“They have to be
at that point where they really want to get clean and stay clean,”
Stone said about addicts. “It took me a long time to get to that
point, but all you have to do is ask for help.”
Stone has found
help from the 12-step program and those in it. He’s also found
success from removing himself from the environment he used to be in
and surrounding himself with the right people.
“One thing I
learned is you got to stick with the winners once you get to that
point because other people are just going to bring you down,” Stone
Even with his
success he still has concerns and continues to work on himself.
stuff ... my behaviors are what I have to work on and continue to
work on,” Stone said.
It can be as
simple as letting someone know they left their change at a register
rather than taking it.
Stone said, “You
have to change everything, basically.”
enforcement faces challenges dealing with opioids
By Alex Beld
June 15, 2018
“Children are losing their parents with sickening
regularity because of people like you,” Judge Todd
Martens said to one of the two leaders of the
Campbellsport heroin ring when he sentenced her in
The judges in
the Washington County Circuit Court system regularly make
distinctions between those profiting from addiction and those who
are addicted. Lori Merget, the woman sentenced in September, was
sentenced to eight years in prison; her son got 10 years.
Others from the
same group who never earned anything other than drugs were viewed
differently. John Plzak was among them.
sentencing hearing, he told Martens he believed he wouldn’t be able
to say no to heroin when he got out of prison. He received a
“That was a
chilling statement,” Martens said to Plzak.
The judge was
appreciative of the honesty from Plzak and also gave him an
opportunity to receive treatment while in prison.
not a moral weakness, it is not a character flaw — it’s a disease,”
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said about addicts. However,
“We are absolutely holding drug dealers accountable and we’re not
going to stop.”
Before any user
or dealer finds themselves in front of Martens or one of the other
three judges in the county, they run into police, most typically a
officers almost find more,” Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt
Items included in a heroin kit are seen in a photograph
taken June 11 at the
West Bend Police Department.
submitted by West Bend Police Department
officers were finding heroin in cars or people passed out in their
cars from use, law enforcement officials were dealing with
prescription abuse. “For the most part that’s where opiates …
OxyContin … it really sort of launched that way,” Schmidt said. “I
don’t hear guys talking about pills too much anymore.”
County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Group knew the problem
was coming after learning about its spread through Chicago and then
Milwaukee. According to annual reports from the Sheriff’s office,
the group, which focuses on distribution, made their first
controlled purchase of heroin in 2007 or 2008.
tiny amount of 0.1 gram normally constitutes a dose of heroin, the
76 grams of heroin the drug unit seized in 2017 represents a
significant quantity,” the 2017 annual report said. “This is the
most heroin the Drug Unit has seized in one year.”
That same year,
7 grams of fentanyl was also seized, which was being sold as heroin.
Schimel said, “I
wouldn’t necessarily be expecting the numbers to go down, just
because of the fact that this epidemic is really resulting in so
much more drug abuse and so much more drug trafficking.”
Office and West Bend Police Department aren’t just collecting these
drugs as they happen upon them — they are shifting resources in
response to the problem. This includes training for the use of
Narcan and recognizing impaired driving along with responding to
crimes related to drug use.
West Bend Chief
of Police Kenneth Meuler said, “We’re putting far more resources
into this problem than we have before and it just keeps getting
worse.” He said the same is true across the country and that “It’s
going to take a lot more than police resources to solve the problem,
that’s the issue.”
or Meuler have an exact number for the amount of cases that can be
related to drug abuse.
tracks crimes related to that stuff, it’s really an anecdotal
thing,” Schmidt said. “You could say anecdotally that it’s a high
number of crimes related to opiates.”
programs like Treatment Alternatives and Diversion, which gives
users a chance to avoid the criminal justice system, and earned
release for those in prison, treatment remains an issue.
“The number one
issue is availability of treatment, affordability of treatment and
then convincing the people that they need to get into treatment,”
Meuler said. “That’s not the easy sell.”
Office is working on some level to inform advocacy groups about the
state of heroin and give public presentations, but it’s also
required to make arrests.
“If I try to do
everything … we’re going to get sucked up and really not be
effective at everything,” Schmidt said.
enforcement officials see a need for more treatment in the
community, but they both also see the issue as one that relates to
an individual’s environment.
“Our staff was
seeing … not your average going-to-work, everyday person becoming
heroin addicts,” Schmidt said.
“People are in
that same environment day-in and day-out,” Schmidt said. He said
they need to get out of that environment and into inpatient
He compared it
to a person from suffering from alcoholism living in a bar.
“By the time
they’ve gotten to the criminal justice system it’s too far,” Meuler
addresses opioids, but the problem is growing
Community and personal recovery expected to take years
By Alex Beld
June 14, 2018
widespread abuse of prescription opiates began in
Washington County during the late 2000s, and nearly a
decade later the federal government signed the
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act into law.
The act has
areas of focus that include prevention and education, law
enforcement, treatment, recovery and collateral consequences of drug
convictions, among others. It approved a yearly budget of $181
million to be disbursed nationally.
At a more local
level, Wisconsin has 30 laws on the books related to the Heroin,
Opioid, Prevention and Education (HOPE) Agenda. It wasn’t until the
2015-16 legislative session that bills addressing prescription abuse
“One of the
first pieces of legislation introduced this session (2017-18)
imposed stricter rules on the sale and dispensation of codeine, a
common opioid used as a pain reliever in some respiratory and
digestive medicines,” state Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said
about recent efforts. “I joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in
co-sponsoring the legislation and it became one of the first bills
to become law last year.”
Dr. Mary Lewis,
who practices emergency medicine with Froedtert, said “Legislation
certainly has affected physicians and other prescribers, I think in
a positive way.”
doctor’s 30 years in the field, she noticed a push to prescribe
everyone has played a role with what happened in our country and now
we all have to play a role in the solutions in trying to stop it,”
“That’s what was
expected of us as far as satisfying the patient and treating their
pain, to … an unrealistic expectation, and now with the newer
legislation and the newer guidelines, physicians can say no with a
good conscience, and we do with regularity.”
Lewis is only
able to provide emergency room patients with two days of
Both sides of
the aisle have supported many of the laws in the HOPE Agenda. Many
politicians also say the epidemic is an issue for people at the
local level to take on. Stroebel was also responsible for
introducing legislation requiring minors to have a prescription for
the purchase of medicine dextromethorphan, commonly found in cough
“This is a
statewide problem, but real solutions come through local and
individual action,” Stroebel said.
Though there has
been a legislative focus on reducing prescriptions and some funds
have been made available for local efforts, the problem isn’t
executive director Mary Simon said, “I would say it’s growing in
organization, which focuses on prevention, intervention and support,
has seen an increase in individuals who are overdosing and seeking
health systems, police departments and other nonprofits are seeing
more of an impact.
Elevate are heading up two important aspects of the issue at the
local level. Prevention focuses on getting time with kids before
they have a chance to be exposed to the drugs, and the treatment is
working to get people clean and sober and out of the criminal
“Schools have to
give us 10 weeks of time with all their sixth-graders, all their
seventh-graders all their eighth-graders,” Simon said. She said the
research needs to be followed, which indicates that one-shot
presentations aren’t having the desired effect.
required poses a tough question for schools, which are also tasked
with teaching kids and potentially discussing many other issues like
When it comes to
implementing prevention efforts in schools, Simon said, “We haven’t
been implementing it as consistently as we would have liked.”
On the other
side of the issue, Elevate is working with the Treatment
Alternatives and Diversion Program to help people who are facing
their first possession conviction. This is done in collaboration
with district attorney offices, probation and parole programs, and
the circuit court system.
“It’s a minimum
of a yearlong program,” Simon said. She said it will take longer
When they had as
many as 30 clients, it cost them $200,000 to serve them. It may take
as long as two years to get some addicts back on track.
needs to be there in order to get those individuals out of the
criminal justice system,” Simon said. She said it often takes four
months to get clients stable enough to start the program.
began offering help to families looking for assistance with helping
loved ones who are addicts. One answer to the problem, for Simon, is
a willingness to admit there is a problem.
“That’s going to
lead to big change,” Simon said.
know the problem
Elevate event aims to educate county officials on the extent of the
By Ralph Chapoco
June 1, 2018
With the recent election producing an influx of
supervisors with limited experience in Washington
County, staff at Elevate Inc. wanted to provide a
platform for them to receive information and ask
questions regarding the opioid epidemic affecting the
to host the Breakfast with the Board on Thursday in Richfield and
invited a cadre of individuals with experience regarding the issue,
from law enforcement at the federal level to those who provide
medical and mental health support and work in the court system.
“This one was
to educate county board supervisors about the issues about opioid in
the community, helping them to understand how a lot of different
departments, and a lot of different aspects of the community, are
impacted,” Elevate Executive Director Mary Simon said. “It is really
Terry Bogues, the owner and manager of Terrace 167,
spoke about the loss of her son Greg Bergeron, pictured
in front of her, during Elevate’s Breakfast with the
Board on Thursday Morning in Richfield. The number of
overdose deaths have been increasing in the area for the
past few years, touching nearly every aspect of the
Of the 26
supervisors who were invited, nine of them, or about 34 percent,
attended the event. Among them was Frank Carr, who asked attendees
if addiction is an individual issue or a separate problem
from audience members revealed how pervasive the issue has become.
Garett Elward identified himself as a local volunteer who is in the
process of getting his education to become a substance abuse
“I am a
recovering addict,” he said. “My drug abuse started in 1986. We had
cocaine then and it was a good time until the end. From 1986 to
2000, I remained clean for 14 years. In 2000 I picked up the drink
again, and that escalated to heroin and cocaine.”
manual labor, he dealt with physical issues that caused some
discomfort, seeking medical attention from a provider who wrote a
script for pain medication. That resulted in an addiction, pain
medication mixed with alcohol, causing a series of health problems
and other issues.
time of 2004 and 2008, I spent a lot of time in the Washington
County jail,” he said. “I saw a lot of different people and (heard)
a lot of different stories. During that period of time, we had the
pill use, but we didn’t have the heroin.”
Vanessa L. Llanas, a staffer for Senator Tammy Baldwin,
left, and County Prevention Manager for Elevate Ronna
Corliss speak prior to the start of the Breakfast with
the Board event Thursday in Richfield.
He was arrested
for driving under the influence in 2013, and once again in 2015. He
was released recently but described a much different atmosphere in
the jail during his incarceration.
“What I saw,
the difference between the period of time in the Washington County
jail in the middle of the 2000s and a lot of time I spent inside the
county, was how much death and destruction there was,” Elward said.
“I never saw this kind of stuff in the 1980s when I was coming up. I
have never seen this. It was that bad.”
His claim would
be supported by Human Services Director Julie Driscoll.
“What we know
of opioids specifically is that there is not one specific person or
family structure, or economic level that isn’t impacted by this
particular epidemic,” she said. “Certainly, the old-school thought
is that there is a genetic component to it, that there is an
addictive personality, but what we know about this drug is that it
impacts all levels of socioeconomic backgrounds, all families. There
is not one family or community that has not been touched by this
epidemic. Conversely, in the 1990s, the crack cocaine was a drug of
poverty. Now, what we are seeing with opioids is that it is across
the country, in every community.”
continued throughout the event. At its initiation, Terry Bogues, the
owner and manager of Terrace 167, described how her son passed away
because of an addiction to opioids. Robert Schafer from the Medical
Examiner’s Office spoke to the increasing number of opioid overdose
deaths in the area and Judge Todd Martens spoke to the impact
opioids have on the criminal justice system.
“I think there
were some good things that came out of it,” Simon said. “I think
there are still, clearly, based on some of the questions and
comments, there is still some education that needs to be done from
our perspective. We are just going to keep plugging away.”
saves 24 lives in first year
Officials credit collaboration, say more work remains
By Cara Spoto -
May 17, 2018
WAUKESHA — Waukesha County officials had more to be
thankful for than just the nice weather on Wednesday.
Joined by state
Attorney General Brad Schimel, the officials gathered on the sunlit
patio of the Waukesha County Health and Human Services building to
announce that 24 lives have been saved in the first year of the
county’s opioid overdose prevention program.
“We were here a
year ago at this time, almost to the day, to talk about a new
program that the (Waukesha County) Health and Human Services
Department had put together, to try to make a difference in (the
opioid epidemic),” County Executive Paul Farrow said.
“Today, we have
trained over 1,000 people in prevention and the use of Narcan.
That’s impressive — 24 lives saved.”
the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services, 883 people
died in Wisconsin last year as result of an opioid overdose.
The plan to
reduce such deaths in Waukesha County kicked off last May. Funded by
a federal grant and the Wisconsin Prescription Drug/Opioid
Overdose-Related Deaths Prevention Project, the effort has involved
identifying risk and protective factors in the community; conducting
free community-level training sessions in the administration of the
opioid overdose reversal agent Naloxone (Narcan); the distribution
of free Naloxone kits; holding opioid overdose prevention education
sessions; and having county crisis workers reach out to people who
have experienced an opioid-related overdose.
have reportedly resulted in 24 individuals reporting to county
health and human services staff that their lives were saved after
receiving one of 1,851 free Naloxone kits distributed in the first
year of the program, and/or through participation in one of the 162
overdose prevention training sessions held in the last year.
The program has
also resulted in 378 police officers in nine municipal police
departments receiving overdose prevention training and direct
outreach being conducted with 145 individuals who have recently
experienced an opioid overdose, officials reported Wednesday.
served for many years as a Waukesha County prosecutor, asked those
gathered to imagine what state and county residents would be facing
if outreach and other overdose prevention programs were not in
how many more deaths would we have had, because there are countless
lives, just countless, countless lives, that are healthy, and better
and stronger now, because of all these efforts,” Schimel said.
thanked Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson for his department’s
involvement in the state’s drug take-back efforts.
have been doing the for real heavy lifting,” Schimel said. “This
time around again we got over 60,000 pounds that we gathered right
here in Waukesha County, which puts our grand total for the drug
take-back program over three years to over 400,000 pound of
medication safely destroyed.”
At the end of
the press conference, which all featured comments from County
Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow, County Health and Human Services
Director Antwayne Robertson, County Supervisor Christine Howard and
Elevate, Inc. Program Manager Adam Kindred, officials planted a tree
to celebrate the 24 lives believed to have been saved as a result of
the county’s overdose prevention efforts.
addicts a CleanSlate
outpatient clinic to fight opioid epidemic
By Dave Fidlin -
Special to The Freeman
May 4, 2018
TOWN OF BROOKFIELD — While it is setting up shop in a
seemingly unassuming business park in the Goerke’s
Corners area, a new outpatient treatment facility hopes
to make a resounding impact on the opioid epidemic.
dignitaries gathered Thursday to commemorate the grand opening of a
local branch of CleanSlate Centers. The Nashville-based company,
founded in 2009, specializes in offering outpatient addiction
State and local
politicians joined advocates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour
of the new facility, which employs five professionals and is the
second of the company’s locations in Wisconsin.
April King, medical assistant; Katrina Jenkins, center
manager; and Dr. Gregory Kaftan, center medical
director, applaud after the ribbon-cutting at CleanSlate
Catanese/Special to The Freeman
Jenkins, manager of the local treatment facility, said CleanSlate
Centers are designed to meet patients wherever they are in the path
toward recovery. The center’s clients, some arriving through
referrals, will make visits twice weekly.
“We work with
everyone,” Jenkins said. ‘We’re interested in meeting you where
Rebecca Kleefisch attended the event and lauded CleanSlate Centers’
arrival in Waukesha County, which comes at a time when drug-related
overdose deaths remain startlingly high.
the 827 opioid-related overdose deaths recorded in 2016, according
to statistics confirmed through the Wisconsin Department of Health
“That’s not OK,
and it’s not acceptable,” Kleefisch said.
In her brief
address, Kleefisch said she is optimistic venues such as CleanSlate
Centers can bring about meaningful change as the crisis continues to
addressing a problem that has no demographic, and it has no
geographic boundary,” Kleefisch said. “The opioid crisis is
impacting everyone. In Wisconsin, we want to continue leading the
way. Opening these doors is a significant step.”
Zellmer, N.P., left, greets her new patient Aimee Bitzke
ribbon-cutting and open house at CleanSlate on Thursday.
Catanese/Special to The Freeman
a local lead physician with CleanSlate Centers, said he is hopeful
the facility will reach people in the Waukesha County area, where
the opioid crisis has been well documented.
happy to be here,” Kaftan said. “What we’re dealing with is a
tremendous problem that doesn’t seem to be getting better. We’re
going to be expanding access until we get this problem turned
While much of
Thursday’s ceremony focused on overdoses and deaths associated with
opioids, heroin and fentanyl, CleanSlate Centers have a broader
focus and also provides treatment services to persons struggling
with alcohol addiction.
CleanSlate Centers have forged collaborative relationships with a
range of medical providers and insurance companies.
“Our goal and
belief is there’s enough out there for everyone,” Jenkins said,
referring to centers treating persons struggling with addiction.
“Let’s see how we can work together.”
received a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes areas of the
facility, where doctors’ offices are housed alongside small meeting
areas for therapy sessions, a large group area and an in-house
sayings also adorn the hallways. One says, “You can if you think you
There also is a
bulletin board, dubbed the Clean-Slate Brag Board. It is adorned
with positive first-person testimonials of people forging ahead with
warriors,” Jenkins said.
officials OK behavioral health facility
By Brandon Anderegg - Freeman Staff
April 13, 2018
VILLAGE OF PEWAUKEE — Many Pewaukee residents sighed in
disappointment on Thursday after the Plan Commission
unanimously approved a conditional use grant application
for a behavioral health facility in the Village of
Behavior Health, LLC, was given the go-ahead to operate a 120-bed
in-patient chemical dependency treatment center at 321 Riverside
Drive, according to an April 12 Plan Commission agenda.
Plan commission approved the facility, there are two conditions that
must be met by the treatment center. Meridian will be required to
install a wall of evergreen trees on the western side of the
facility, and they’ll also have to create a Neighborhood Advisory
Board, which will foster community engagement and ensure that
residents have opportunities to express their concerns.
night was a win for Meridian, the Plan Commission’s decision was a
major loss for the residents of River Hills Park. For area
residents, their biggest qualm is how the project will impact
traffic, safety and the property values of their homes. For Jon
Haines, a resident of River Hills Park, the traffic analysis that
was conducted for the area yielded inaccurate results, he said.
Haines recalled the days of the River Hills nursing home, which
brought traffic to the area and people not native to Pewaukee, he
“In the waning
years of River Hills nursing home, as times changed, we saw that the
employees there were no longer from our neighborhood,” Haines said.
“I understand traffic studies have been done and people are saying
it’s not going to make an impact. Baloney, it’s going to make an
Earl Fulcer, a
River Hills Park resident since 1989, said “if the Plan Commission
cannot protect residents from big business, who will?” He added that
businesses seeking development only care about profits and never the
well-being of residents.
“Who protects us
from big businesses?” Fulcer said. “Businesses who take advantage of
everyone they can. Does the decline of our lifestyle start with your
vote tonight? I hope not.”
Lack of access
Development Officer Sean Epp, who attended the meeting, said there
is a lack of access to behavioral health facilities in the state.
Sela Kurter, an assistant professor at the Medical College of
Wisconsin who spoke on behalf of Meridian, agreed with Epp, and said
the rate of overdose deaths in southeastern Wisconsin has doubled in
the last five years.
mostly young, are passing away from overdoses,” Kurter said. “We
have patients living in Pewaukee, living in Waukesha County that are
that 45,000 people in the nation died to drug addiction last year.
He said people in the neighborhood shouldn’t be fearful because the
facility is held to the highest standards through a certification
with the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation, which is an
international organization that develops and maintains current
standards for rehabilitation centers, according to the CARF website.
“I think they
should not worry,” Kurter said. “I think the bigger concern should
be for the lack of treatment in Waukesha County.”
official talks opioid crisis
Praises Wisconsin for its efforts battling epidemic
By Cara Spoto -
March 22, 2018
WAUKESHA — As the opioid epidemic continues to bear down
on Wisconsin and the country at large, U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric
Hargan and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch visited Waukesha
County on Wednesday to learn more about successful
efforts here to battle the public health crisis.
explained Hargan, was part of a presidential initiative to help
communities across the U.S better address the epidemic by making
federal resources available to existing local programs that have
As part of the
visit, Hargan; Paul Krupski, director of Opioid Initiatives for the
Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services; and Kleefisch,
who co-chairs the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse, took part
in a roundtable discussion with Waukesha County Health and Human
Services staff, County Executive Paul Farrow and County Sheriff Eric
Severson at the county’s Health and Human Services Building, 514
discussion was just one of several meetings federal HHS officials
have been having with local communities across the country as
part of President Donald
Trump’s initiative to combat opioid abuse and limit the flow of
illicit substances into the country.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric
Hargan talks during a press conference on the opioid
epidemic on Wednesday in Waukesha. Listening from left
to right are Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson,
Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services Opioid Initiatives
Director Paul Krupski, Waukesha County Executive Paul
Farrow and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
to The Freeman
opioid crisis would be solved on a person-to-person level, Hargan
praised Wisconsin for the creativity and initiative it has shown in
battling the epidemic.
“So many things
are being developed and worked through in a real practical way here
in Wisconsin,” Hargan said, noting that the hope was to transmit
what Wisconsin officials have learned about what works and what
doesn’t to other states.
efforts, Krupski noted that WDHHS has awarded $3.1 million in
targeted response grants to 16 counties and five tribes in high-need
areas of the state. And Kleefisch reported that the state Senate had
just passed two more pieces of legislation to battle the epidemic.
of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric
to The Freeman
numbers show that 827 Wisconsinites have lost their lives because of
this crisis,” she said. “We are delighted that the federal
government has taken up the opioid crisis as a signature issue.”
the recognition from federal HHS officials a great honor.
“I am so
grateful that we are able to get the message out about how well this
county works,” he said.
He added that
support from the national and state level would allow the county to
take its fight against opioids to the next level: “It will allow
programs that we already know are working to be even more
As the county
continues fighting the opioid crisis, it is preparing to mark the
one-year anniversary of its four-tiered work plan and participation
in the Wisconsin Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose- Related Deaths
Prevention Project during the week of May 13. The county will
observe the week with an update on its plan, as well as education,
training and awareness events. More information is available online
Heroin Task Force reports on the status of addictions, recovery
By Melanie Boyung -
News Graphic Staff
Feb. 13, 2018
OZAUKEE COUNTY — Increased methamphetamine cases,
successful diversion treatment stories and a new drug
monitoring program. Those are among the highs and lows
of the opioid addiction situation discussed recently by
the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force. “It went really
well,” Amy Kozicki, public health educator for the
Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department, said of the
meeting. “We had a great turnout.” The Task Force was
formed in 2014 to deal with what law enforcement and
public health officials called one of the worst drug
epidemics the county has seen in decades. Members of the
different task force committees provided updates about
Ozaukee County’s treatment, diversion and addiction-
The Ozaukee County Department of Human Services served 102 clients
in 2017 and 118 in 2016. Treatment was split between 72 percent
outpatients and 28 percent through the MATT program, Medical
Assisted Treatment Transformation. Heather Carlson of the Public
Health Department said Ozaukee County’s MATT program includes
twice-weekly group therapy and medication to assist recovery.
Within the MATT program, a presentation to the Heroin Task Force
showed that between 2016 and 2017, 36 people received their first
Vivitrol shot in a clinic and 26 in jail. Vivitrol is a brand of
naltrexone, which blocks opioids and alcohol from bonding to the
nervous system. It is used in
addiction treatment to prevent relapse, as a monthly
naltrexone injection prevents opioids from causing a high, removing
the incentive for addicts to use.
that Ozaukee County has had 105 treatment and diversion cases in the
past three years, with about 60 percent being successfully
discharged from the addiction treatment program.
“Which might not
seem like a lot, but in recovery and completing diversion, we have a
great percentage,” she said.
Kozicki said the meeting also included information from District
Attorney Adam Gerol, as well as information from a Sheriff’s Office
“He talked about
the increase in methamphetamine cases, and people on heroin trying
to switch to meth,” Kozicki said.
County Sheriff’s Office has two K-9 officers trained in drug
tracking; the department also makes use of tip line reports of
children in drug-endangered situations. Kozicki said tip line use
has increased each year it has been in use. There were 107 tips in
“Those have been
really helpful, because they’re real time,” Kozicki said.
The Heroin Task Force also discussed the Prescription Drug
Monitoring Program. The program allows medical providers to record
level one prescriptions in a centralized database, where other
doctors or pharmacists, law enforcement or medical examiners can
The system was
established to give doctors a place to find out if patients were
using multiple doctors and had prescriptions they did not reveal.
With the system, doctors can crosscheck the database to ensure their
patients are not doctor-shopping or seeking level one medications
they already have. Police can check the system as well in the course
“It’s a great
resource,” Kozicki said.
Kozicki also said the task force had 417 people view the Hidden in
Plain Sight room, a teenager’s mock bedroom in which adults may walk
through, attempting to identify dozens of common items that
potentially indicate drug use.
To learn more,
or to get involved with the Task Force, go to
rezoning for Genesis House move, expansion
Purchase of blighted strip mall across from City Hall also approved
By Cara Spoto - Freeman Staff
Feb. 7, 2018
WAUKESHA — A proposal from Lutheran Social Services of
Wisconsin to convert an adult day center at 2000
Bluemound Road into a 22-bed, live-in drug and alcohol
treatment facility for men and women has received the
zoning it needs to move forward.
than an hour of public comments – most focused on the need for more
treatment options in the area – the Common Council voted 11-1 on
Tuesday to rezone the property from industrial to institutional.
which is already owned by LSS, sits next to Monkey Joe’s, near the
intersection of Springdale Road. In addition to being used as an
adult day center, the building is currently being utilized as an
overflow homeless shelter.
The project is
an expansion of the organization’s 12-bed Genesis House facility,
currently located at 1002 Motor Ave., that currently only serves
program to the Bluemound Road location will allow the organization
to serve both men and women, explained Debra Adamus, manager of
addiction and restorative justice programs at LSS. It would also
allow the organization to offer a longer, transitional treatment
program in addition to a more intensive 28-day treatment program.
Under the plan,
the Motor Avenue facility would close and go back onto the tax
rolls, LSS staff said Tuesday.
his own struggles with drug and alcohol addiction,
Waukesha resident Patrick Reilly speaks Tuesday at City
Hall about the need for Lutheran Social Services’
expanded treatment facility at
2000 Bluemound Road.
“Right here in
Waukesha County there is no affordable treatment for women...
Roger’s Memorial Hospital has the Herrington Recovery Center (in
Oconomowoc). It’s a great program, but it’s expensive,” said Adamus,
addressing aldermen during the public hearing. “We are providing
affordable treatment for both men and women.”
More than a
dozen people turned out to speak in favor of the proposal, including
several men and women who spoke of their own struggles with drug and
“It’s not as if
someone is coming to our community with no clinical experience
whatsoever and saying ‘can I open a treatment facility.’ We are
talking about Lutheran Social Services,” said Waukesha resident
Patrick Reilly. “Today I stand before you 76,552 hours, 3,190 days,
104 months, and 8.7 years substance free. This is only because I was
able receive treatment.”
speaker to speak against the rezoning was Jeff Miller, the owner of
Monkey Joe’s. Miller said he understood the need for more treatment
facilities, but he expressed concern about whether the nonprofit
could control the behavior of would-be clients who are not allowed
into the facility.
“I’ve had a lot
of issues with the Salvation Army having the (overflow) homeless
shelter there: People coming out of the bushes, chasing my
employees... We agree we should have (this facility), but having it
next to a children’s amusement center?... I am not sure that is a
against the rezoning, 2nd District Alderman Eric Payne stated that
he wasn’t concerned about the service the nonprofit was providing or
its clients, he just “didn’t think it was the right place to put a
Commission backs Genesis House move, expansion
By Cara Spoto - Freeman Staff
Jan. 11, 2018
WAUKESHA — A proposal from Lutheran Social Services of
Wisconsin to convert an adult day center at 2000
Bluemound Road into a 22-bed, live-in drug and alcohol
treatment facility for men and women has cleared its
Plan Commission voted 5-0 on Wednesday to recommend that the Common
Council grant the nonprofit the conditional use permit and rezoning
needed to make the project a reality.
The project is
an expansion of the organization’s 12-bed Genesis House facility,
currently located at 1002 Motor Ave.
only serves men.
program to the Bluemound Road location would allow the organization
to serve both men and women, explained Debra Adamus, manager of
addiction and restorative justice programs at LSS. It would also
allow the organization to offer a longer, transitional treatment
program in addition to a more intensive 28day treatment program.
there are no affordable residential treatment programs in Waukesha
County for women. Our new program, which will be called the Aspen
Center, will allows us to include women,” Adamus said.
“In my 38 years
in the addiction field I have never felt the level of urgency that I
feel today in response to the opioid epidemic. We want to expand our
services in Waukesha County to be responsive to this unmet need in
Adamus was one
of more than two dozen supporters who packed the City Hall Council
Chambers for the meeting.
supporters spoke of their own or family members’ struggles with drug
and alcohol addiction, including Waukesha County Supervisor
Christine Howard, who said she had lost both a brother and nephew to
Alderman Terry Thieme, whose district includes the proposed program
site, also spoke in favor of the project The building, which is
already owned by LSS, sits next to Monkey Joe’s, near the
intersection of Springdale Road.
In addition to
an adult day center, the building is currently being utilized as an
overflow homeless shelter.
The property is
currently zoned for manufacturing, but LSS is requesting the parcel
be given a institutional zoning.
In a memo
recommending the rezoning, a city planner states that while planners
would normally be against such “spot zoning,” institutional
properties are “often interspersed throughout the community, and
don’t necessarily need to be located in similar districts.”
LSS plans to
remodel the building’s interior extensively, but it currently has no
plans to change the exterior.
Council could make a final vote on the proposal at its meeting on
Districts taking on opioid epidemic through new proposed
By Ashley Haynes - Freeman Staff
Jan. 10, 2018
PEWAUKEE — At this week’s Policy Committee meeting for
the Pewaukee School District, committee members were
presented with a rough draft of a proposed policy that
aims to regulate the use of Narcan, a nasal spray that
can be administered to stop the effects of an opioid
overdose in its tracks, by trained staff members on
Mike Cady had stated that this policy had been in the works for the
past several months since Attorney General Brad Schimel spoke on
campus about the opioid epidemic. Pewaukee’s proposed Narcan policy
states that any district employee, volunteer or staff member who has
been authorized in writing to administer medication now has
authority under section 118.29(2)(a)2g of the state statutes to
administer Narcan to any person who appears to be undergoing an
opioid-related drug overdose, under certain conditions. They must
have received prior Department of Public Instruction-approved
training, the person administering the Narcan must call 911 as soon
as practicable, and if the Narcan has been given to someone other
than who it has been prescribed to, the person administering the
Narcan must have the knowledge and training needed to safely
administer the drug to an individual undergoing an opioid-related
overdose, as provided under section 448.037 and section 441.18 of
the state statutes.
“What we have
is really just a rough draft so far,” said Cady. “It’s largely
fashioned around state statute 118.29. ”
that the district is still in the process of writing the policy and
applying legal and medical advice to ensure they have all necessary
elements in place.
policy will be coming back for review at the February Policy
Committee meeting and then to the regular School Board meeting in
the only school district looking to modify its policies to include
the usage of Narcan. The Oconomowoc Area School District reviewed a
revision to policy 453.4 (medication administration) in December as
well. The policy had been revised to include the administration of
Narcan as a stock medication, similar to an EpiPen. Reasons cited
for the revision include recommendations from district medical
directors and the district’s nursing association. The addition to
policy 453.4 states: “Stock emergency medications, including
Epinephrine and Naloxone (NARCAN), may be obtained and administered
by trained staff to a pupil or other person whom is believed in good
faith to be experiencing such an emergency, according to written
protocol as approved by district Medical Advisor. In such instances
in which these emergency medications are given, the person who
administers the medication shall dial 911 as soon as practical.”
Narcan at the
state, University of Wisconsin campuses are also armed with Narcan.
In December, Schimel and UW System President Ray Cross reached a
partnership with Adapt Pharma, Inc., the manufacturer of Narcan
nasal spray, to bring the product to nine UW campuses, including
UW-Milwaukee. Law enforcement and campus security on UW campuses
were provided with 4mg of the nasal spray at no cost. The effort was
part of an attempt to better educate students about opioid misuse
and prepare campus leadership in the event of an overdose.
Pewaukee school district to develop policy on use of Narcan
By Freeman Staff
Jan. 6, 2018
PEWAUKEE — On Monday, the Pewaukee School District
Policy Committee will meet to discuss and develop a
policy regarding Narcan, the nasal spray that can be
administered to stop the effects of an opiod overdose in
Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. in the
District Office, 404 Lake St.
Mike Cady said in an email that the district had been discussing
including an opioid antagonist such as Narcan as a component of
their safety procedures for the past several months, ever since
Attorney General Brad Schimel spoke on campus about the opioid
researched the topic and have conferred with the Village PD,
Waukesha County, medical advisors and our school nursing staff as we
have worked toward a proposed policy,” said Cady.
that they have also reached out to review the policy and procedure
of a neighboring school district. On Monday, the Policy Committee
will be presented with a draft of the proposed Narcan policy and
CleanSlate addiction center opens in Waukesha
By Freeman Staff
Jan. 4, 2018
WAUKESHA — CleanSlate Centers announced the opening of a
new facility in Waukesha Wednesday that will attempt to
meet the need for doctors specializing in opioid
addiction treatment in the area.
The group, which
started admitting patients in Waukesha last week, is a national
medical company that provides treatment for addiction with a focus
on opioids and alcohol due to the high demand for therapies,
according to a press release.
CleanSlate staff pose with signs showing the values of
the company. From left: Physician Assistant Viet
Vignieri, Waukesha center manager Katrina Jenkins and
Medical Assistant April King.
“Our goal at
CleanSlate is to bring proven medication-assisted programs and
medical teams uniquely trained to treat addiction to communities
like Waukesha that are being devastated by the opioid epidemic,”
said President and CEO of CleanSlate Centers Gregory Marotta in a
statement. “Medication-assisted treatment saves lives, as we’ve seen
through successfully treating thousands of patients across the
According to the
press release, data shows that opioid-related overdose deaths in
Wisconsin more than tripled from 2003 to 2014 and the number
continues to grow. On top of that, the state has a shortage of
doctors focused on addiction medicine and people seeking treatment
are often placed on long waiting lists.
media spokeswoman for CleanSlate, was unable to answer by press time
Wednesday if the new Waukesha facility has a waitlist or how many
spaces will be available in the center.
currently runs 38 centers across the country and is in the process
of opening more to meet demand for services.
information about the CleanSlate Center in Waukesha, visit
or call 833-505-HOPE.
Attorneys announce filing of Washington County’s pharma suit
Lawsuit pins blame for opioid epidemic on manufacturers
By Ralph Chapoco -
Nov. 8, 2017
BEND — For weeks, attorneys from three law firms have
been encouraging leaders from Wisconsin counties to join
them in a lawsuit targeting pharmaceutical manufacturers
for their role in the national opioid epidemic.
On Tuesday at
the Old County Courthouse, attorneys from Crueger Dickinson LLC,
Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC and von Briesen & Roper S.C. hosted a news
conference to announce they have filed separate lawsuits on behalf
of county representatives who voted to join them in their efforts.
companies’ aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription
opioid pain pills as safe and efficacious for long-term use has led
to a drug epidemic in both Wisconsin and around the nation,”
Attorney Erin Dickinson said.
just the tip of the iceberg, however,” Dickinson continued. “County
governments are bearing the cost of this crisis. The crisis has
overwhelmed county-provided services and has had a devastating
effect on the counties’ ability to pay for those services.”
The event in
West Bend was specific to the suit filed for Washington County, but
the attorneys filed similar complaints on behalf of 27 other
counties alleging representatives from pharmaceutical manufacturers
such as Purdue, Endo, Cephalon and Janssen misled the public about
the addictive nature of their products.
County officials recently voted to be a party to the lawsuit,
approving a resolution during Thursday’s meeting. Similar action is
being taken throughout the nation, as states such as Washington and
Ohio are filing their own lawsuits.
reported on Tuesday that the largest southeastern Wisconsin counties
— Waukesha, Milwaukee, Dane, Racine and Kenosha — have not joined
pharma companies used ‘misinformation’
It is alleged in
the complaint the motivation for distributing what is described as
“misinformation” is to expand the use of the pharmaceutical
companies’ products to generate additional revenues. The complaint
says that, in the past, opioid medications were used to treat pain
in the short term — acute pain, recovery from surgery, cancer or
The market for
that use is small, however, and the complaint says pharmaceutical
representatives wanted to access the more lucrative space of
long-term chronic pain relief. To do that, they would need to alter
physicians’ knowledge, understanding and prescribing habits for
alleges pharmaceutical companies created and distributed literature
that understated the risks while overstating the benefits for
long-term use, provided the appearance of independent research and
shaped the opinions of those in the medical field.
deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to
present our defense,’’ Purdue Pharma said in a statement that also
said the company is ‘‘deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we
are dedicated to being part of the solution.’’
Solutions said in a statement its ‘‘top priorities include patient
safety and ensuring that patients with chronic pain have access to
safe and effective therapeutic options’’ while preventing opioid
abuse. It said it couldn’t comment further on pending litigation.
Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond to an email asking for
The Associated Press and Steve
Van Dien, Freeman Staff
Opiod lawsuit press
weapon against opioids
Walgreens announces all U.S. stores will stock Narcan
By Ashley Haynes -
Oct. 27, 2017
WAUKESHA — On the same day that President Donald Trump
declared the opioid crisis a national public health
emergency, Walgreens came out with an announcement of
its own. The retailer announced that as part of a
comprehensive plan to combat drug abuse, all 8,000
Walgreens pharmacies will stock their shelves with the
FDAapproved nasal-spray form of Naloxone, commonly
referred to as Narcan. The medication can be used in the
event of an overdose to counter the effects of opioid
Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families
and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case
they need it,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens’ group vice president of
Walgreens is adopting Center for Disease Control and Prevention
recommendations by educating patients about Narcan when they are
prescribed a controlled substance greater than 50 morphine milligram
equivalents and may be at risk of accidental overdose.
combined with the opportunity for patients and caregivers to obtain
Narcan nasal spray without a prescription in 45 states, is critical
in combating the crisis,” said Seamus Mulligan, chief executive
officer for Adapt Pharma, makers of the nasal spray.
wholesaler AmerisourceBergen distributed Narcan demo devices at no
cost to Walgreens pharmacists so they can teach patients on how to
properly administer the spray.
County, the effects of opioids can easily be seen. At the beginning
of last month, County Executive Paul Farrow proclaimed Sept. 1
Overdose Awareness Day in remembrance of the 60 residents who died
from the drugs in 2016.
decision to carry Narcan in its stores is an important step in the
fight against the opioid crisis,” said Farrow. “Prescription opioids
are the main cause of drug overdose deaths and poisonings in
Wisconsin, so the ability to easily access Narcan can help save
lives in Waukesha County, the state of Wisconsin, and across the
country.” John Kettler, clinic supervisor at the Waukesha County
Department of Human Health Services, echoed the sentiment that
easier access to Narcan could be beneficial.
“Our position is
that the more Narcan we can get out there the better,” said Kettler.
“It can save lives. We’re very excited about this. This is a good
received a grant from State Targeted Response to fight the crisis,
and has been focusing on community level action. Community members
can be trained in how to administer the Narcan nasal spray, and even
local library directors received training on how to spot and stop a
drug overdose. Still, opioid overdose deaths continue in Waukesha
County, with 17 deaths being reported earlier this month.
deaths continue in Waukesha County
Coalition releases guide to help community
By Brian Huber -
Oct. 15, 2017
WAUKESHA — So far in 2017, the number of confirmed
drug-related deaths is far lower than at this point last
year, but an official in the Waukesha County Medical
Examiner’s office said the preliminary numbers may be
inconclusive as far as trends go.
numbers updated this week, so far in 2017, 17 people have been
confirmed to have died in drug-related deaths in Waukesha County,
compared with 62 at this point last year.
“Don’t read too
much into that,” said Kris Klenz, supervisor for deputy medical
examiners in Waukesha County. “We send out the testing, we get
responses back as cases are completed by them. ... Seventeen is just
the confirmed number of drug-related deaths based on death
certificates we’ve signed so far this year.”
Klenz said the
17 figure accounts for cases investigated through May; she declined
to speculate on what the approximate number of actual drug-related
deaths may be based on the number of pending cases. Seventeen for
about half the year does not automatically mean the county is on
pace for 34 this year, she said.
When asked if
such a difference in numbers from last year to this means people can
conclude opioid deaths are falling, Klenz said, “I would tend to say
no. With this year’s data there are not enough numbers to compare
alone. But with heroin in 2015 there were 20 and in 2016 it was 24,
so we are certainly not seeing fewer heroin
deaths,” she said.
“I don’t have a
crystal ball to say we’ll have fewer or as many heroin deaths than
last year. We all hope it would be fewer,” Klenz said.
Of those 17
deaths this year:
12 were accidental, five were listed as suicide — where people
succumb to overdoses based on a mix of drugs including alcohol,
non-opioid prescriptions or even street drugs of abuse.
Eight involved heroin, alone or in combination with other
substances. Six involved opioid medications, and one involved
non-prescription synthetic opioids like fentanyl or a derivative of
it; and two involved other drugs or medications like anti-anxiety or
Nine were males, eight were females.
Ages ranged from 21 to 71 years old.
has not seen dramatic spikes like the 11 deaths reported in a
fourday span recently in Milwaukee County. But they can come in
bunches here too, Klenz said.
“We might go in
spurts but for us a spurt would be two or three in a week, not 11 in
a weekend, so it’s a much, much smaller scale,” she said.
Turning the tide
Klenz said the
county is looking at a drug fatality review team, to complement
similar groups examining deaths of children and elderly people.
Klenz said the team would examine deaths in the county to try to
learn from them in the hope of making a difference.
tide involves a multifaceted effort, from training people to use the
drug Narcan to counteract the effects of opioids, to awareness and
education, getting information to people so families know what to
look for and where to turn for help — “There’s so many different
things because there is not going to be one easy solution to a lot
of this,” Klenz said.
To that end,
the Waukesha County Drug Free Communities coalition has put out an
Opiate and Heroin Guide this week for community members to get a
look at the opioid problem, how to spot signs of usage, how to
respond to an overdose, treatment resources and options, and more,
including personal stories from people affected by opioids, either
users themselves or a family member of an overdose victim.
executive director of Elevate, a nonprofit agency in Waukesha and
Washington County that provides referrals and other support services
for people and works with the coalition, said the guide is being
given to hospitals and the sheriff’s department, and an effort is
being made at getting it into schools.
“I think what
we hope to accomplish is to educate the community, and keep raising
awareness this is an issue because there are still some people who
don’t believe it can happen in Waukesha County,” she said.
Even for people
who may not have insurance to get private treatment, there are
options, beginning with a call to the 211 service that can refer
people to resources where they can get needs addressed, she said.
works with children as young as high school in a Peers for Peers
program. Students are trained to be peer listeners so if friends or
classmates have addiction concerns, they can provide direction for
The hope is to
prevent children from using drugs and alcohol, because the younger
people are when they start to use such substances the likelihood
that they will become dependent grows, she said.
compiled a similar guide specific to Washington County as well, and
other organizations are doing similar things in southeastern
Wisconsin, Simon said.
“There is a
wealth of information in there about heroin and stuff, opiates, and
why this is happening and what we can do to prevent this and I would
really encourage people to pick it up and read it or go online and
look at it, talk to your kids and lock up your prescriptions,” she
The guide is
Task Force to hold three talks this month
News Graphic Staff
Oct. 10, 2017
CEDARBURG — Recovery, drug threats and medication
management are slated for discussion in the Heroin Task
Force’s lecture series this month.
The task force
is holding three lectures this month, They are:
Wednesday, 2017 Drug Threats Statewide and in our Backyard
Oct. 18, Navigating Addiction, Treatment and Support
Oct. 25, Understanding Pain Management, Medication Disposal and
Each lecture is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the
Ozaukee Pavilion on the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds, W67 N866
Washington Ave. in Cedarburg. During each of the lectures, the
Heroin Task Force will also have the Hidden in Plain Sight display
Hidden in Plain
Sight is a model teen bedroom with with several dozen signs of
alcohol or drug use. It was built earlier this year by a Heroin Task
Force work group, based on a similar display the group had
previously borrowed from another county.
walk through Hidden in Plain Sight, trying to identify the signs of
drug and alcohol use that have been planted. Tours will be available
each Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ozaukee Pavilion. The
display is for adults 21 years or older only.
series and the Hidden in Plain Sight demonstration are both part of
the task force’s efforts to make progress this year. During task
force meetings and workshops earlier this year, the group concluded
this year’s initiatives had to be “actionable,” and the educational
lecture series and Hidden in Plain Sight room were two of the main
goals the task force formed.
director of Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department, told the
County Board that all of the items planted in the room – items
commonly used to conceal or enable alcohol and drug use – were
purchased on the internet through Amazon or Wal-Mart, easily
accessible to teenagers.
information on the task force and the events planned, go to
http://washozwi.gov/Heroin-Task-Force-Events online or call
‘Building Awareness: A discussion on drug use in our
Starting Point event to include stories of young people in
News Graphic Staff
Oct. 5, 2017
MEQUON — A free event to promote awareness of addiction
and drug use in local communities will be held.
their children in seventh grade through high school are invited to
the presentation at Homestead High School in the James Barr
Performing Arts Center Monday, Oct. 23. There will be a resource
fair from 6 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., offering information about the
resources and organization available in southeast Wisconsin.
At 6:30 p.m.
the presentation will begin with an introduction, followed by
keynote speaker Dr. Brian Fidlin, a licensed clinical psychologist
with 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents and
speaks, break-out sessions are scheduled for 7:20 p.m. to 8 p.m.
According to event information, there will be a session on the
parents’ perspective and stories from young adults in recovery, both
with question and answer opportunities.
At the end of
the free event, Fidlin will speak again, discussing resilience and
grit in recovery.
The event is
organized by Starting Point of Ozaukee County, sponsored by the
Mequon-Thiensville Junior Woman’s Club and moderated by Joyce
Garbaciak. For more information, call Starting Point at
Oconomowoc council votes to allow drug and rehab center in
By Jake Meister -
Oct. 4, 2017
OCONOMOWOC — The majority of the gallery within the Oconomowoc
Common Council Chambers was mostly smiling Tuesday night after two
very different, well buzzed-about endeavors were approved following
council first approved a conditional use permit and two
associated ordinances that will allow a drug and alcohol
rehabilitation facility, Ladders Recovery Community, to
operate at 1331 W. Capitol Drive.
The steps up the Ladders
path to the pro-Ladders vote wasn’t easy. On Aug. 22,
the council approved the first reading related to
rezoning the 5.3 acre parcel at 1331 W. Capitol Drive
from industrial to a general commercial district
following a public comment period that likely made that
council meeting the most heated of 2017. The other
reading changed the land use designation for the parcel
to a general commercial district.
items pertaining to zoning were not signed off by the
Oconomowoc Plan Commission during its Aug. 9 meeting,
which also boasted a well-attended public comment
According to city documents, the commission’s reasons
for not supporting the measures included a desire not to
remove more than 5 acres of industrial land from the
city and keep the industrial land use consistent with
other areas. The commission also reasoned that a
subdivision to the west of the property was platted with
the expectation that the zoning would remain industrial
and that property owners in the area expect it to stay
at that Aug. 22 council meeting, the crowd heavily
supported the facility, as did the council. A few
businesses in the area of 1331 W. Capitol Drive voiced
concerns, but other businesses in that same area showed
Tuesday night, Alderman Matt Rosek asked City Planner
Jason Gallo if the city has received any complaints from
homeowners in the area of 1331 W. Capitol Drive
regarding the possible addition of Ladders.
Gallo said the city has received no such complaints that
he was aware of and the only complaint from a business
was the same the council had heard at the last meeting.
the issue of safety was rehashed.
Attorney Stan Riffle said that if the Oconomowoc Police
Department or other emergency responders get excessive
calls to Ladders, Ladders Operator Jacob Jansen would be
brought before the council for a meeting in which the
aldermen would decide whether it wants to revoke the
conditional use permit. Oconomowoc Public Safety
Director and Police Chief Ron Buerger said he is
comfortable with Jansen’s plan for Ladders.
epidemic discussed at Legislative Breakfast
State attorney general among those in attendance
By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily News
Sept. 23, 2017
epidemic has become a national crisis, one that has vexed policy
makers, elected officials and public health representatives — and
Washington County residents are not immune to the effect.
magnitude and extent of the problem, prominent members of the
community descended upon the village of Richfield to discuss a
problem that defied simple and easy answers — how to address the
growing opioid epidemic facing the area.
Staff from the
Washington County Heroin Task Force and Elevate Inc. — a nonprofit
that tries to address the root causes of high-risk behaviors through
prevention, intervention and residential programs that focus on drug
and alcohol issues, mental health and delinquency — hosted their
fifth annual Legislative Breakfast on Friday at Terrace 167 in
Richfield, inviting stakeholders to discuss their thoughts and
provide ideas for dealing with the issue.
“It is a
complicated issue,” Elevate Executive Director Mary Simon said. “It
is a really, really, complicated issue. We are dealing with people,
right? Have you met a simple person? I haven’t met a simple person.”
Washington and Ozaukee County Health Officer Kirsten
Johnson and Behavioral Health Manager Jaclyn Moglowsky
review their materials Friday at Terrace 167 in the
village of Richfield during the fifth annual Legislative
Breakfast hosted by Elevate Inc. and the Washington
County Heroin Task Force.
The event was
structured differently than past events. Friday’s format was meant
to foster discussion, identify the issues and the barriers to
solving the problem. It was organized around the recommendations
presented by President Donald Trump’s commission and Gov. Scott
Walker’s task force meant to address the opioid problem.
Three of the
recommendations were presented individually by Dolores Bomrad,
moderator for the event. That was followed by input from Simon and
local subject matter experts, including Behavioral Health Manager
Jaclyn Moglowsky to Elevate’s Ronna Corliss who works on prevention
opened the discussion to attendees who were invited to give their
thoughts on the subject. A range of topics were discussed, from
possible treatment options to prevention.
treating drug addiction by prescribing pharmaceutical products.
the use of a medication called Vivitrol, we are not going into
details but what Vivitrol does, but it is an injectable medication
that reduces cravings and is a very effective tool,” Simon said.
Ronald Naab, a
member of the Heroine Task Force, and whose son is an addict,
understanding in talking to the people who are working with him,
that particular medication, along with counseling, is 92 percent
effective,” he said. “Ninety-two percent effective,” he reiterated.
“Whereas some of the drugs are less than 30 percent effective, so
somehow it would nice if we could get the drug companies to reduce
the cost the shot.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel sits in front of
a photograph of Rob Franklin as he listens to Elevate
Inc. Executive Director Mary Simon express her thoughts
regarding the lack of data that is available for
researching the opioid epidemic in Washington County.
Organizers placed posters throughout the venue of people
who are in recovery from the disease or who have died as
a reminder to attendees about what is at stake.
Access to the
medication is difficult. The medication is given once per month for
at least one year — and each injection is about $1,000 — making it
cost prohibitive for many who want to incorporate it as part of
Part of the
discussion focused on preventative measures where Wisconsin Rep.
Janel Brandtjen challenged parents to discuss deterrence strategies
with their children “My kids’ exit strategy: ‘They are going to
admit they are sick,’” she said. “If they are in a situation they
want to get out of, they are going to tell them they are going to
of the event was directed toward the unknown, what officials didn’t
know or still had to learn.
that I would like to begin to get an understanding of, how to find
data to measure this, is to understand why people start,” Wisconsin
Attorney General Brad Schimel said. “I think that is the most
important thing if we are going to be effective.”
collected anecdotal evidence that have guided their decisions for
implementing specific programs that prevent the onset of addiction,
but few have measured the effectiveness. Officials know fewer
details about children’s substance abuse habits — knowledge they
require for dealing with the issue.
“It would allow
us to target our educational efforts,” Simon said. “If we found out
of the kids that are using, 85 percent of them are using OxyContin.
Then we need to target our education around OxyContin. We don’t need
to talk about heroin because kids aren’t using heroin.”
Simon said she
wants to know about situations where people try to access treatment
options but couldn’t — is the issue finances, provider access or
transportation? She said she is also interested in learning about
the options interest them.
In total, the
event presented the barriers to treatment and potential ideas for
addressing the problem, but few concrete solutions were introduced.
“What I said at
the end was that we wanted to make this an ongoing conversation,”
she said. “For a lot of people, this is the first time they are even
hearing some of this information. To expect people to come up with
solutions the first time they are hearing it, it is not realistic.”
trapped when you’re actively in addiction’
By Alison Henderson - News
Sept. 5, 2017
— A few years ago, Grafton resident John Pospichal was stealing and
selling possessions, draining his bank account, taking out loans
from check-cashing stores and forging his father’s checks to satisfy
a prescription painkiller-induced opioid addiction. It started with
a sprained ankle and ended with several felony charges, losing an
ex-girlfriend to an overdose and six months and four days in jail.
Now, with an
apartment, a job and a reinstated license, the 31-year-old musician
immersed himself in treatment, has gotten involved with the Ozaukee
County Heroin Task Force, has started a support meeting and works as
an assistant manager at a sober living house. On Nov. 4, he will
have been sober for three years. During September, his and thousands
of other recoveries will be celebrated through National Recovery
Month, which raises awareness of mental and substance use disorders,
celebrates individuals in long-term recovery and acknowledges the
work of prevention, treatment and recovery support services.
In 2015, 43.4
million adults had a mental illness, 20.8 million people 12 or older
had a substance use disorder and 8.1 million adults had both a
substance use disorder and a mental illness, according to the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National
Survey on Drug Use and Health.
found that 2.3 million people – or 10.8 percent of people 12 or
older – who needed substance use treatment had received it at a
specialty facility in the previous year.
affects all of us one way or the other,” said Shea Halula of
Starting Point. The Ozaukee County organization connects people to
substance abuse prevention and intervention resources, like support
and recovery groups.
recovery month highlights that there are a lot of people in
recovery, which can be from any substance that has mind-altering or
damaging effects. SAMHSA said it celebrates recovery much like
people celebrate improvements for other health conditions like
hypertension, diabetes and asthma.
millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through
recovery,” the SAMHSA website states. “Since these successes often
go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a
vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments.”
recovery is freedom.
“It’s life, it’s
a new way of living,” he said. “You’re trapped when you’re actively
it was fear that brought him out of that trap, but it was
determination that kept him away.
“I was so tired
of fighting. The lifestyle got really tiresome, but unfortunately
you can’t stop because you get really sick so it becomes a vicious
cycle,” he said. “I don’t want to go back to Ozaukee County jail or
prison, and I actually enjoy life sober now. You get to a point in
recovery where it’s not about staying sober, it’s about emotional
sobriety and maintaining an even flow of emotions where
consistently, you feel good. … It works if you work it. If you don’t
put in the work nothing’s going to change.”
There are many
types of recovery, Halula said, and while it often requires working
a program or attending treatment and support groups, he said it also
requires being honest with oneself.
“It’s all about
hope. People can and do get better, it’s just a matter of taking the
necessary steps, being honest and getting help,” he said.
In a press
release recognizing National Recovery Month, Starting Point
encouraged people to educate themselves and others about the signs
to look for in friends, family and coworkers. These include a
decline in performance, poor attendance at work or school or sudden
changes in behavior or personality. The press release also
encouraged asking doctors to actively screen and diagnose dependence
and addiction and asking employers to help make treatment available.
“We also can
help spread the word and educate people with substance use and their
family members about treatment options, support services and
employee assistance programs that can guide people into recovery
while still maintaining their jobs,” the press release stated.
A number of
treatment and recovery resources for mental and substance use
disorders are available in Ozaukee County and can be found through
the Wisconsin Department of Health Services or by visiting
VICTIMS OF OPIOID ABUSE
Overdose Awareness Day features speakers, butterfly release
By Ashley Haynes - Freeman
Sept. 1, 2017
WAUKESHA — On
Thursday morning, before the Waukesha County Courthouse, County
Executive Paul Farrow proclaimed that the day would become Overdose
Awareness Day in Waukesha County. The proclamation coincided with
International Overdose Awareness Day. At the event, 60 butterflies
were released to represent the 60 confirmed drug-related deaths in
the county last year.
A butterfly sits on the wrist of Rachael Cooper.
to The Freeman
several speakers, including Jennifer Dorow, chief judge of the Third
Administrative District, who explained the importance of Drug
Treatment Court in the county.
“When I started
my career in Waukesha in January of 2012, I soon became aware of the
gravity and the extent of the opiate epidemic as I presided over
case after case of drug-dependent offenders,” said Dorow. “In many
respects, it’s the last hope for individuals who are at risk of
dying or going to prison.”
Judge Jennifer Dorow holds one of 60 butterflies in
preparation for release.
to The Freeman
One of the
first people to pass successfully through Waukesha County Drug
Treatment Court also spoke. Paul Page was present when his best
friend overdosed in November of 2011. Both of them were charged with
possession and Page was sent to Drug Treatment Court. Page described
how he received tough love from the judge who presided over his
case, but it was just what he needed.
system had been an enemy of mine for a long time, but I saw that
this was different,” said Page. “They never treated me as anything
less than a human being.”
Page, who is
now approaching five years sober, is simultaneously dealing with the
recent death of his best friend, who wasn’t as lucky as he is. The
butterflies released Thursday morning were in remembrance of people
like Page’s friend.
Howard, County Board supervisor, has also been personally affected
by the opioid epidemic. She lost a brother in 2006 and has also lost
stories, because this crisis affects everyone,” said Howard as she
extended a heartfelt thanks to Paul Page for sharing his story.
Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow speaks during a
ceremony to commemorate International Overdose Awareness
Day at the Waukesha County Courthouse on Thursday.
to The Freeman
The last speaker
of the morning, Farrow pulled out the official proclamation naming
Aug. 31 as Overdose Awareness Day. He said the goal of the
proclamation is simple: to see the number of overdose survivors
become greater than the number of lives lost. A major focus in this
year’s county budget will be increasing funds to the Health and
Human Services Department and the Sheriff’s Department to fight the
crisis is very real and it affects everyone, which is why I am
making fighting this crisis a priority,” said Farrow. “Our goal is
to bring forth awareness of what this epidemic really is.”
The county also
received a new grant from a State Targeted Response to the crisis,
which will further allow officials to look at affected communities.
The STR grant is in addition to Waukesha County’s participation in
the Wisconsin Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose-Related Deaths
Prevention Project, announced in May. Waukesha County has been
focused on fostering community level action by training citizens how
to use Narcan, developing rapid community response projects (such as
health department surveys) and expanding use of the Prescription
Drug Monitoring program.
considers suing drug companies amid war on opioids
Panel examines new tactic after spike in deaths
By DAVE FIDLIN - Special to
Aug. 25, 2017
MILWAUKEE — As the war against
the recent spike in overdose deaths from heroin, opioids and other
drugs continues, a countywide panel devoted to exploring prevention
options is considering a new tactic - suing drug companies.
Michael McNett, a pain
management physician with Aurora Health Care, lays some of the blame
in the overdose crisis at the doors of drug manufacturing companies.
All too often, McNett said highly addictive drugs are presented as
the solution to patients’ treatment needs in lieu of other options.
The state and federal court
systems have traditionally sided with drug manufacturers in past
attempts to file lawsuits against the companies, though the tide has
slowly begun turning, according to a handful of local medical
“I think there’s been a
misunderstanding on the part of the courts,” McNett said at a recent
City-County Heroin, Opioid and Task Force meeting. “No one sets out
to become addicted.”
CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls
A cross section of persons sits
on the task force. Bevan Baker, commissioner of the Milwaukee County
Health Department, chairs the panel. A number of elected officials
also sit on it, including Milwaukee Aldermen Michael Murphy and
Khalif Rainey and St. Francis Mayor CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls.
The task force, convened early
this year as overdose statistics continued to rise, also includes a
number of other persons in an effort to provide as broad a
perspective as possible.
Michael Macias, a former heroin
addict, pulled up a chair on the panel more recently. He has been
sober for a year and a half and described his ongoing path toward
recovery as “a hard road.”
Although there have been signs
of hope, Macias, from his first hand experience, said he remains
concerned about the spike in overdose deaths in recent years. Macias
said he considers himself fortunate to have not succumbed to his
“We all know — we see it in the
news every day,” Macias said of the cases. “This really is an
Macias also spoke openly of a
recent encounter he had with a physician as he was recovering from
“My physician handed out the
OxyContin like they were Tic Tacs,” Macias said.
Local physician George “Chip”
Morris, who serves on the Medical Society of Milwaukee County, said
he agrees doctors need to reconsider how they are prescribing next
steps for pain management.
“We can talk about chronic pain
and what not to do about it, managing it,” Morris said, pointing out
he advocates for alternatives whenever possible.
Because heroin, fentanyl and
opioids are highly addictive, Morris said of the epidemic, “This is
a public health disaster. This is the essence of a true emergency.”
Baker said the expertise from
the medical community is valuable as next steps are pursued.
“We need you in the space,”
Baker said of doctors and other medical professionals. “Your
leverage and your advocacy is necessary.”
While results from lawsuits
against drug manufacturers have been spotty, the task force in its
recent discussion remains open to potentially considering it as an
avenue to curtailing overdose statistics.
Other ongoing efforts that have
been discussed are the partnerships municipalities have forged with
pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens to serve as drop-off centers for
The collaborative effort, to
date, has been fully taxpayer — funded, however.
The task force meets about once
per month. Its most recent gathering was Aug. 18.
training offered for families of opiate users
Aug. 24, 2017
Healing Corner, a local clinic, is offering training for the friends
and family of people who use opiates. The training will cover the
use of the medication naloxone, which can save the lives of opiate
take place on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at The
Healing Corner, 19115 W. Capitol Drive, Suite 117.
information call 262-781-0240, extension 1005, or email
A drug and
alcohol treatment center in Oconomowoc?
Common Council vote on rezoning favors venture
By Jake Meister - Freeman
Aug. 23, 2017
The Oconomowoc Common Council’s chambers were packed to the rafters
Tuesday night for its most intense meeting of 2017 — one that
resulted in two votes that could eventually help to bring a drug and
alcohol rehabilitation facility to West Capitol Drive.
marathon public comment period and a aldermanic discussion that was
at times contentious, the council approved the first readings
related to the rezoning of the area in an effort to accommodate the
rehabilitation business, known as The Ladders Recovery Community.
would rezone the 5.3 acre parcel at 1331 W. Capitol Drive from
industrial to a general commercial district. The
other would change the land use
designation for the parcel to a general commercial district.
A drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility might be
coming to this building at
1331 W. Capitol Drive in Oconomowoc.
These items came
to the council after John Van Kempen of Hills of Erin, LLC submitted
an application to allow changes to the vacant 15,000 square foot
building that used to rent to Paper-Less, LLC. and Information
Systems Engineering. Should the zonings change for the building, the
property owner would seek a conditional use permit to allow for
converting the building so that it can accommodate the 24/7 drug and
alcohol recovery community supporting up to 30 people at a time.
Ladders Recovery Community be built, Jacob Jansen, a recovering drug
addict himself, would operate the business as executive director.
Jansen owns sober living facilities for women in other communities.
pertaining to zoning were not signed off by the Oconomowoc Plan
Commission during its Aug. 9 meeting, which included a well-attended
public comment period.
city documents, the commission’s reasons for not supporting the
measures included a desire not to remove more than 5 acres of
industrial land from the city and keep the industrial land use
consistent with other areas. The commission also reasoned that a
subdivision to the west of the property was platted with the
expectation that the zoning would remain industrial and that
property owners in the area expect it to stay so.
ruling disappointed a large group of people who support the addition
of the facility, and it showed. Many people — perhaps more than in
any public comment period at a council meeting this year — spoke in
favor of the rehabilitation facility Tuesday night. Most seemed to
have been impacted by drug or alcohol addiction, specifically opiate
members of his family, Jacob Jansen spoke. He told the council that,
should the zoning changes not pass, he feared the city would send
the message that rectifying the heroin and opioid epidemic is not a
priority in Waukesha County.
He said the
facility’s goal is to provide residential treatment for less than
$2,500 a month — a figure he suggested isn’t possible at other
School counselor Scott Bakkum voiced his strong support for the
facility. Bakkum said he personally knows of 15 Oconomowoc High
School graduates who have overdosed, many of whom he said were in
who took the podium spoke in favor of the zoning change. One group
who didn’t support it was Oconomowoc Molded Products, a company that
at 1220 Capital Drive is a golf swing away from the proposed
treatment center. While a representative from the company said he
sympathized with the families impacted by addiction, he added that
it shouldn’t be in an industrial park.
Council weighs in
aldermen were able to speak, Mayor Dave Nold let the crowd know what
the Oconomowoc Plan Commission’s role is in the whole situation.
Commission does not consider the politics of the situation,” Nold
said. 'They’re not there to judge the project by its merits.”
Nold went on to
add the council would be the group to consider the complicated
variables at hand.
Ellis jumped right in to voice his strong support.
“The times are
changing now, guys. We need to change with them,” he said.
Schmidt said he favored what the facility would be bringing, but did
have his worries.
“I’m just not
really sure about this particular lot and location,” Schmidt said.
He was also concerned with the size of the police department and how
it would be impacted if The Ladders Recovery Community was created.
Schmidt added he
was concerned that the subdivision to the west of the location
wasn’t mailed the public notice pertaining to the meeting.
Jason Gallo said the city followed statutes and sent public notices
to the properties that needed to be notified.
Strey peppered Jansen with questions, one of which pertained to
Jansen said the
residents will be living on the second and third floors and security
cameras will be put on the floors, monitoring, registering and
recording their movement from the facility. He said the facility
will be locked at various points and a curfew will be instituted.
Then things got
that drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, causing loud, angry
roars from the crowd. One comment seemed to especially anger the
“Nobody told Tom
Strey to have his first Pabst Blue Ribbon,” Strey said to a cloud of
softened up after comments from Alderman Lou Kowieski — applauding
to the point that Nold had to pound the gavel.
Kowieski said he
was strongly considering voting against the resolutions before the
meeting, but the events of the meeting changed his mind.
“One thing I
love about this community are the hearts, so I hope you can be
welcomed to this community,” Kowieski said to cheers.
Strey chimed in
again, stating that he wasn’t allowed to finish his comments
earlier. This time, he won the crowd over by exclaiming he would,
despite the wishes of many constituents, be voting in favor of
changing the zoning ordinance.
After a few more
quick comments, the council settled in and voted to approve the
first readings on both items related to rezoning.
A resolution to
act on the conditional use permit for the Ladders Recovery Facility
was held off until the council’s next meeting, which will be held
heroin out of hiding
force works to educate community with demonstration, lecture series
By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff
Aug. 22, 2017
OZAUKEE COUNTY —
The Heroin Task Force is taking action on its goals to educate and
prepare the community for the fight against the heroin epidemic.
“We had seen in
2013 an uptick in overdose deaths,” said Washington Ozaukee Public
Health Department Director Kirsten Johnson, who gave a presentation
to the County Board last week, updating the board on the task
force’s recent work.
The Heroin Task
Force began in 2014 with informational summits in response to the
rise in drug use in the county, which led to work groups and
volunteers forming goals for Ozaukee County’s fight against the
Heroin epidemic. The groups formed then by the 100 or so people who
came to work at the second summit were medical education; policy and
advocacy; community education; treatment; and law enforcement.
events really did bring people together,” Johnson said.
The Task Force
has refined its direction with specific projects and programs
currently underway. At a series of task force meetings earlier this
year, members of the group decided that this year’s work needed to
be actionable and have results.
Johnson said the
task force is working on community education and support as much as
possible, to encourage people to be aware and open.
She showed a
painting during the County Board update that had been done some
years earlier by a high school student; the painting included a
syringe, an injection sore and other indicators of drug use.
that when the art teacher who received the painting spoke to the
artist’s parent, concerned about the painting, the parent said her
child was just acting out for attention, she did not use drugs. The
student survived an overdose a couple years later.
warning signs this plain, that families don’t feel comfortable
coming forward or talking about,” Johnson said.
The most recent
success of these efforts is the Hidden in Plain Sight demonstration.
It is a simulation of a teenager’s bedroom, laden with items that
can be used for or signs of drug use. The Heroin Task Force built
the simulation, designed for members of the public to go through,
looking for the signs and learning what to look for. There are about
40 indicators planted in the mock-bedroom.
that all the items planted in the room were purchased online from
Amazon.com and Wal-Mart.
things that are easily accessible for kids,” she said.
Hidden in Plain
Sight was set up at the Ozaukee County Fair; an email from Amy
Kozicki, Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department health
educator, said 417 fair-goers toured the demonstration.
The Hidden in
Plain Sight room is next scheduled to be available in October, when
it will be set up in conjunction with another Heroin Task Force
project, an educational lecture series:
Oct. 11, 7 p.m., Early detection, drug recognition and addiction
Oct. 18, 7 p.m., Recovery roads, personal stories of recovery
Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Pain management
More information will be available on the lectures as they approach.
Hidden in Plain
Sight will be set up in conjunction with the lectures in the Ozaukee
Pavilion building on the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds in Cedarburg,
with the demonstration available for touring from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
told the County Board that the task force has been working on
support infrastructure for those in addiction recovery, establishing
more support groups and coming up with transportation resources for
those who need support groups but have no means to get to them.
for ways to address opioid crisis
Summer program at CUW led by pharmacy professor
By Kali Thiel - Special to the News
Aug. 8, 2017
MEQUON — For
some teens, summertime means a break from learning, but for the 10
Milwaukee-area high school students who participated in the Advanced
SMART Team program at Concordia University Wisconsin, this summer
has meant an opportunity to delve into the science behind the opioid
students from schools in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties wrapped up a
six-week program that had them learning about the drugs that bind
proteins in order to find or create new ways to address the opioid
Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Chris Cunningham led
Abby Arnholt of Cedarburg was part of a team of high
school students who studied ways to prevent individuals
from becoming dependent on opioids. She did the work as
part of a six-week-long program run by a Concordia
University Wisconsin Pharmacy School professor.
“We have an
immediate health crisis concern in our nation,” Cunningham said.
“This program not only exposes students to that dire concern, it
helps them become interested in math and sciences, as well as drug
discovery, and those are all very worthwhile goals, in my mind.”
The program is
part of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s 500 Stars
Summer Internship Program.
The CTSI 500
Stars Initiative is a 10-year strategic, comprehensive and
community-focused effort that seeks to replenish and increase
diversity in the translational science workforce.
The CUW Advanced
SMART Team program is also an extension of a Milwaukee School of
Engineering program, called SMART (Students Modeling a Research
Topic) Teams, where students learn about STEM fields, proteins and
biology before “graduating” to the CUW program. This coming Friday,
teams from both programs will gather at the Medical College of
Wisconsin to present their research findings.
One CUW team
will share its efforts to make more potent antagonists to help
patients recover from an opioid overdose – similar to Narcan, only
another team will share their efforts to make kappa receptors, which
can act as antagonists or blockers, and could be useful for treating
other widely abused drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.
Abby Arnholt of
Cedarburg and her team will present their efforts to develop a new
class of delta opioid receptor antagonists that would prevent a
person from becoming dependent on opioids in the first place.
Such agents have
been shown to block the rewarding effects of morphine in mice,
though FDA-approved agents are lacking.
Arnholt said the
group will send their research to the National Institute of Health
Psychoactive Drug Screening Program , led by Dr. Bryan Roth at the
University of North Carolina, to test their effectiveness. The
results could play a role in altering mainstream medication
“I have some
pretty good molecules, so I think there will be some positive
results,” Arnholt said. “Hopefully it will shed more light on the
opioid epidemic and lead to more research so that we can have more
Force to unveil new exhibit at the fair
By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff
Aug. 1, 2017
CEDARBURG — The
Ozaukee County Fair this week will be host to the county’s own
Hidden in Plain Sight exhibit.
The display is a
project of the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force this year. Hidden in
Plain Sight rooms are demonstrations, designed to increase awareness
among adults of the warning signs of a teen’s drug and alcohol
abuse. The room is a simulation of a teenager’s bedroom, containing
hidden clues that might indicate substance abuse.
“These signs are
everyday items that are commonly manipulated for alcohol and drug
use by teens,” according to a press release from the Washington
Ozaukee Public Health Department.
Department and the Heroin Task Force are presenting the room in the
Commercial Building on the fairgrounds. It will be open Wednesday,
Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday
from noon to 6 p.m.
According to the
press release, there are about 40 warning signs hidden in the room.
It is open to those 21 and older.
partnership between the Ozaukee County Fair and the Washington
Ozaukee Public Health Department is expected to increase awareness
of substance abuse in the community greatly,” the press release
The Heroin Task
Force took on building a Hidden in Plain Sight exhibit as one of its
three main initiatives this year. Members of the task force
volunteered to design, organize and construct it.
has used a Hidden in Plain Sight room before; one of the mock
teenage bedrooms was in Port Washington last year for an event, on
loan from Washington County. Using that experience as a model, the
Heroin Task Force undertook creating their own to increase use and
availability of the demonstration for local initiatives and events.
the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department indicates there were
56 drug-related hospitalizations and 146 alcohol-related
hospitalizations in Ozaukee County during 2016.
The other two
initiatives of the task force this year are creating an educational
lecture and speaker series and increasing availability of support to
those in recovery.
To learn more
about the Heroin Task Force, go to
www.ozheroinhelp.org. For more information about the Hidden in
Plain Sight room, contact the Washington Ozaukee Public Health
Department at 262284-8170.
memory of Kimmie
Event aims to help those battling addiction
By AMANDA BECKER - Daily News
July 24, 2017
her 21-yearold daughter to a heroin overdose last year, Jessica
McConkey is advocating to remove the stigma of drug addiction within
the community. She hopes the “Concert for Kimmie” is an event that
can open up the discussion about the growing epidemic.
if we don’t get this under control, everybody is going to know
somebody that has died from an overdose,” McConkey said. “It’s not
just going to be heroin; it’s going to be all these other drugs.”
daughter and Kimmie’s sister, Samie Landon, and Aspired Executive
Director Melissa Twitty have orchestrated a festival larger than
they originally imagined.
From left, Kimmie Landon, her mother Jessica McConkey,
and her sister Samie Landon are seen in this undated
photo. McConkey and Samie are organizing the “Concert
for Kimmie” on July 30 at Regner Park.
It will start
at 8 a.m. July 30 at Regner Park in West Bend. Beginning with the 5K
Run for Recovery followed by a family friendly festival that will
provide free food, face painting, a bounce house, a silent auction,
a meat raffle and a music festival Kimmie would be proud of.
music festivals,” said McConkey, recalling how the 21-yearold was
always singing and dancing.
Samie Landon, that was just one part of her sister’s bubbly
It is all
thanks to helpful friends, family and community members. Everyone
involved has donated his or her time and resources to make the event
free to the public and all cash donations and proceeds from the 5K,
will go toward the Kimmie Landon Fund.
said the event all started to fall into place after The Nix got in
touch to perform. The band wanted to be a part of the event, because
the cause is something they strongly believe in.
Landon Fund will support others trying to stay sober who seek
support from Aspired.
“I wanted to
start a scholarship fund with the 5K because it promotes healthy
activity, and a lot of people, when they’re in active addiction,
they don’t take the best care of their self,” Twitty said.
The money will
also be used to help anyone struggling with addiction, including
men, or addicts of any drugs or alcohol.
scholarship is not just for heroin (addiction),” McConkey said. “I
want to stress that, it’s for all addiction.”
The event will
honor Kimmie’s life, and it will advocate for addiction awareness
within the community. Tables will be set up for Narcan education, as
well as information on where to go if you are looking for help.
Samie Landon will be a guest speaker to talk about her experience.
“We just want to
prevent other families from going through our nightmare,” Samie
The family did
not know about Aspired’s sober living home before working with them
to curate the event, and McConkey said she believes the program
could have saved Kimmie’s life.
“I wanted to
open my own home like this, and my friend Julie found Aspired,”
McConkey said. “We went and checked it out ... it was exactly what I
had in mind, and they’re amazing.”
Kimmie’s story is already making a noticeable impact. Aspired, which
only accommodates six currently, is full and has a waiting list for
the first time in years. The family encourages people to reach out
to them if they are in need of help.
Samie Landon and
McConkey said they don’t plan to stop campaigning for the cause
after the event July 30.
“It’s more of my
mission. I’m not even going to stop with just this,” McConkey said.
“I think there is a bigger picture that needs to be looked at.”
Local emergency responders worry about contact with dangerous opioid
By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff
July 20, 2017
— It’s a fraction of the size of a penny, and it’s lethal enough to
have local police and first responders searching for a shield
carfentanil is a synthetic opioid related to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a
narcotic sometimes used in small doses as a pain killer; it can
cause respiratory arrest or death if taken in too great a dose.
however, was designed as a tranquilizer for elephants, and is not
approved for any use in humans. According to the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is lethal at 2 milligrams and
about 50 times more potent than heroin, and carfentanil is 100 times
more potent than fentanyl.
The frequency of law enforcement encountering fentanyl
has risen drastically since 2013. The DEA attributes the
increase to availability from Mexico, where fentanyl and
carfentanil are illicitly manufactured, and China, where
production, sale and export of carfentanil were legal
until earlier this year.
courtesy of Center for Disease Control
“We’re facing a
new synthetic drug danger,” Grafton Police Chief Charles Wenten
states that the presence of carfentanil, as well as fentanyl and
other fentanyl derivatives, has increased dramatically in the last
two years. Brought into the U.S. mostly from Mexico and China, drug
dealers cut it with heroin or sell it as heroin to increase profit
margins; users often do not know they are taking something more
said he is coordinating with Fire Chief Bill Rice to design
precautions and get specialized gear to protect against carfentanil,
which can cause an overdose for anyone who simply touches it.
the DEA, carfentanil and fentanyl can be ingested, injected, inhaled
or absorbed through skin contact. While the exact threshold for a
lethal dose of carfentanil is not known, as the drug is not designed
for humans, only 2 milligrams of fentanyl can kill. By comparison,
many over-the-counter pain reliever capsules are 200 milligrams.
off-the-charts dangerous,” Wenten said.
County Sheriff’s Office has already altered its protocols to
compensate for the new danger.
Johnson said that the department has switched to nitrile gloves,
which are more resistant to being permeated than latex, and patrol
officers no longer field test drug.
Testing drugs is
now done on a two-detective system. Johnson said the first detective
wears nitrile gloves while performing the test, and a second
detective stands outside the immediate area to monitor the first
detective for signs of exposure.
cause respiratory depression or arrest, drowsiness, disorientation,
sedation, pinpoint pupils and clammy skin, with onset of symptoms
occurring within minutes of exposure. Sheriff's Office personnel
also carry multiple doses of Narcan, according to Johnson, which
counteracts opioid overdose. DEA information states counteracting
carfentanil can require multiple doses. Ozaukee County Coroner Tim
Deppisch said he is all too aware of the concern of coroners and
medical examiners who fear they may come into contact with the drug
at a death scene. He said simply kneeling down next to a body could
cause a major health threat. “We don’t know what we’re dealing
with,” Deppisch said. Last weekend, a police officer in Menasha
ended up in the hospital after accidental exposure to carfentanil.
Shortly after responding to an overdose death Sunday, the police
officer began having symptoms while driving on Interstate 41,
according to statements from the Menasha Police Department. The
officer left the interstate and made it to the Winnebago County
Sheriff's Department, where he was given two doses of Narcan to
counteract the carfentanil and then taken to the hospital. News
outlets across the country have reported similar incidents, as
police officers and emergency medical technicians come into contact
with the drug while apprehending drug suspects or collecting
evidence, often not even realizing it has happened. This danger of
accidental or unknown exposure drives the need for protective
clothing and equipment.
“We haven’t had
a contact with it, but we cannot wait until we do to be prepared,”
stumble through this one,” he added.
carfentanil powder can cause overdose by skin contact or inhalation,
it also presents a danger to K-9 units trained to detect and find
drugs, though Johnson said K-9 handlers typically clear a scene for
visible drugs and dangers before bringing their dog in.
Narcan is also
safe to use on dogs.
directors face battle against opioid abuse head-on
Learn about awareness, prevention and administering Narcan
By Ashley Haynes - Freeman Staff
July 15, 2017
PEWAUKEE — On
Friday morning, library directors from across Waukesha County
gathered at the Pewaukee Public Library to attend the first overdose
and awareness prevention class. All of them had a singular goal in
mind: to help reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in Waukesha
County is committed to dealing with this prescription painkiller
crisis,” said Jill Fuller, marketing and communications coordinator
for Bridges Library System. “Libraries are just one piece of the
puzzle of the larger plan of the county to educate the public.”
The class was
part of Waukesha County’s four-part plan to fight the opioid crisis
through training first responders and key community members in
prevention and treatment strategies.
Clay, a health education specialist with Waukesha County
Health and Human Services, gives a demonstration on what
to do if someone is suffering from a suspected drug
Ashley Haynes/Freeman Staff
Lee Clay, a
health education specialist with Waukesha County Health and Human
Services, let the library directors know the numbers behind the
opioid crisis. Of all the overdose deaths in the county, 41 percent
are from opiates and more than half of those who overdose from an
opiate get the drug from someone they know. More than 80 percent of
these overdose deaths are witnessed by someone.
“This is not
what I like to call a back alley problem,” said Clay. “This is a
huge problem. Had we had the knowledge, we could have saved 80
percent of those people.”
that opioid abuse strikes close to home and doesn’t happen the way
most people may imagine. Most problems with opioid drugs come from
legitimate misunderstanding of a doctor-prescribed medication. An
overdose doesn’t happen the way it is so often shown on television.
The process can sometimes take hours and be caused by a mistake,
like forgetting taking medication and later consuming alcohol.
it’s important for you as librarians to be aware of this,” said
Clay. “Someone probably won’t shoot up on your premises but all
kinds of people will come in throughout the day.”
Clay taught the
directors the signs of an overdose, how an overdose can occur and
the correct procedure to follow if they suspect one is occurring.
She stressed they should only act in ways they are comfortable with.
Then, she demonstrated how to properly administer Narcan nasal
spray, a drug that presses the pause button on an overdose attack.
with the ethical issues surrounding that,” said Clay.
“Then I thought
by golly, we have an epi-pen for people who get themselves into
situations they don’t intend to. Why not Narcan?”
emergency will also include other first-aid items such
as latex gloves and a barrier to perform CPR.
Ashley Haynes/Freeman Staff
did not walk away with a Narcan kit after Friday’s meeting, they
were able to see the product and gain a better understanding of how
it works. Community members can be trained on how to administer
Narcan, because even if it is incorrectly administered there is no
negative effect to the recipient. It lasts about 30 minutes within
the body once administered.
A federal grant
from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
funded the class and the purchase of Narcan kits, which library
directors can obtain if they decide to pursue further training.
ashamed of loved one’s addiction
By Tony Luke Jr. - The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
July 13, 2017
I’m sitting in
my restaurant not long after my son Tony Luke III dies, and an
elderly gentleman comes in and he says to me: “Hey, Tony, I heard
your son passed away. I just want to tell you how incredibly sorry I
“Well thank you.
I appreciate it.”
“Do you mind if
I asked you how he died? Did he have cancer, was he ...”
“No,” I said,
“he died of a heroin overdose.”
“Damn it, these
kids, the choices they make.”
I didn’t get
upset with him. I just thought: “Wow. This is the view. This is why
no one talks about it.”
Yes, my son was
absolutely responsible for his actions. But when there’s an
addiction — and I believe it’s a disease — those are not the
actions, the choices, of a rational, thinking person. Those are the
actions of people who are in absolute survival mode.
survival mode kicks in, when it’s live or die, take the pain away or
don’t take the pain away, you’re scared to death, and you’ll trample
over people to get what you need.
Every day I saw
my son, he had the look of being ashamed, as if he were losing, as
if he were weak. Because that’s what he hears. You’re weak. A strong
person could get out of this.
Tony had fallen
into partying when he was young. Marijuana, pills. That was their
version of alcohol. You never think it’s going to lead to anything
But he was
always athletic and he was a wrestler in school. When he got into a
car accident and hurt his back, the doctors put him on Percocets.
But one wasn’t enough to take the pain away, so he’s taking two,
three, four. But he was still hurting and got his prescription
refilled and before we knew it, he was addicted. He had to have
them. He couldn’t function without them.
After a while,
the doctors figure you’re better and they cut you off. So then you
start buying them on the streets. But pills are super expensive —
25, 30 bucks a pop. You can keep that going for a while if you have
a job and money, but as he got older, Tony lost his job and he had
lost his health care. Then he had a car accident that complicated
the pain and back issues. He was taking so many Percocets and they
didn’t do much for him because he’d been using them for so long.
So what do you
do when there’s no money and nowhere to turn? You go to heroin. It’s
ridiculously cheap. Anyone can afford it.
No one wants to
be an addict. No one wants to feel like crap every single day of
their life when they get up. They don’t want it. Tony had been to
rehab twice, and each time he came out, he was better. He was
trying, he really was trying. He was really working his butt off to
But this is a
disease that takes over your whole body. It ravages your body. You
don’t have any control. It gets into your mind, your body, whatever
the illness is. You fight, you fight, you fight.
My son Michael
calls it the Monster. It’s a great term because it is a monster.
It’s so big, it’s so large and it’s so scary that you can’t fight
it. You fight it but — it would be like me literally fighting a
great athlete, who was 6-foot-11 and 400 pounds of solid muscle. If
I fight him every day, I just get tired. I can’t beat him.
Tony was a good
kid, truly he was. But the Monster took over, made that kid do
things, say things, act in a certain way that he never would have,
ever, ever. But the Monster has to feed and nothing matters then.
You lie, you manipulate, you say whatever you need to do to take the
And that’s the
road he traveled. That’s the road he fought for eight years, nine
years. It was ridiculous to fight. Go to rehab, come out. “I got
this, Dad.” Go to the pastor, go to the church every day, go to
meetings. “I got this, I’m trying.”
And he did. He
tried and tried and he tried. And then, on March 27, he had a moment
of weakness and made a decision, and the Monster beat him for good.
The day before,
Sunday, he was sweeping and mopping the floor of my store and he
said: “Dad, I can’t stand it anymore. My back. Do you mind if I go
home?” And I’m like: “No, we’re done. I’ll finish the rest. We’re
He said: “Dad,
I’ve been humbled. I just, I want to take care of my children, I
want to ...”
Then he kissed
me, and as he left, I said, “Tony, I’ll see you on Wednesday,”
because we were closed Monday and Tuesday. And he died Monday.
I like to feel
that he died with some hope in his heart, that there was something.
And I can’t imagine the pain he was in to shoot up again, knowing
that there’s something here, maybe. So he had to be in, physically,
so much pain.
After the guy
said that to me in the store I thought, “Man, if I feel this way,
how many families are feeling this way?”
At the same
time, everywhere I look in the news I’m hearing about opioids, and I
hear 3,000 dead, and 4,000 dead, and I’m thinking to myself: “This
isn’t about numbers. My son is not a statistic.”
But he is if the
media don’t connect those numbers to real people and the families
who love them. And too often they don’t connect the dots because
families are silent, because they’re ashamed of what people will say
about them or their addicted kids.
So I finally
said: “You know what? I’m not ashamed. I don’t care what anyone says
about me. My son was not a number. My son was not somebody to be
thrown away. My son was not weak.”
I wanted to get
this story out, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. I didn’t think we
needed another charity or a foundation. And in the meantime I’m
researching heroin, and seeing the terms “brown” and “white”
everywhere, and then I finally think, well what about an initiative?
What if we find a way to encourage people to talk about the people
they love? To promote conversations between survivors and the
public? To remove the stigma?
I thought, if
people see me taking the heat, they’ll realize there’s nothing to be
ashamed of. That it’s OK to talk about addiction and their loved
I worked with a
group of people that helped me come up with Brown and White as just
a hashtag (brownandwhite). I didn’t want Tony Luke on there. This is
not about me. It’s about my son to me, but not to you. I don’t want
you to think this is my cause.
It’s our cause.
Next I get a
call from a local TV station, and they said, “Would you come in to
talk about your son?” And I said, “I will.”
And then boom,
So, keep it
going. Go to Twitter and put pictures of your loved ones there. Get
those faces out, those names out. Put a name to your story. Send it
to your congressman. Tell them: “I am not a number. Brown and White.
I am not a number.” Let them know that this isn’t a statistical
problem to be solved, these are people to be helped.
(Tony Luke Jr. is a Philadelphia-area entrepreneur and media
personality. Follow him on Twitter tonylukejr. He wrote this for The
directors will be trained to administer anti-overdose drug
By Ashley Haynes - Freeman Staff
July 11, 2017
Public library directors from throughout Waukesha County will be
trained on Friday on how to administer the drug Naloxone, commonly
known as Narcan, to help reverse opioid and heroin overdoses.
Staff from the
Clinical Services Division of the Waukesha County Department of
Health and Human Services will conduct the non-public training at
the Delafield Public Library.
directors throughout the county have expressed a desire to be a part
of the solution to the problem of the rising misuse of prescription
opioid pain relievers and heroin,” said John Kettler, mental health
and substance abuse supervisor for Waukesha County HHS.
director for the Waukesha Public Library, John Klima, has chosen to
forgo the Narcan training. According to Kori Hall, head of program
development and community engagement, it will be more appropriate
for the new fulltime director to make the final decision regarding
the training once appointed.
knowledge, I think that we have had some issues in the past, but
they’re not very frequent here,” said Hall.
She says that
because the library is a space that has open resources for the
public, all kinds of people may enter, including those that may
abuse drugs. There isn’t any characteristic in particular that might
make the library prone to seeing more overdose incidents than any
other public space. However, having a higher amount of foot traffic
does increase the probability that first responders will be needed
in the case of a drug overdose.
the Narcan training program has not been fully introduced, but there
has been some talk of providing the instruction.
“I know that
direct abuse and use is a concern and at least one library was
considering using Narcan,” said Betsy Black, Oconomowoc Public
Training of the
library directors will include how to recognize opioid misuse and
how to administer the overdose- reversal drug as a nasal spray.
Within Waukesha County, sheriff’s deputies and other emergency
responders are trained to administer Naloxone. Those who complete
Friday’s training will be provided with a Naloxone antidote kit.
statistics for the past three years indicate the age group with the
highest number of heroin overdoses is 20-29 year-olds. The death
rate within the county has increased in the past decade, from two
deaths in 2006 to 20 in 2015.
In May, the
Waukesha County HHS announced it was selected as a pilot site by the
Wisconsin Department of Health Services for the administration of
services through a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration. A component of the grant is to offer
free, community- level training on the administration of naloxone
and to distribute kits containing the opiate reversal agent. The
training is not required and library directors will make the
decision on whether or not to participate.
within for opioid addicts
Waukesha woman one of first to receive implants for fighting
By Brian Huber - Freeman Staff
July 3, 2017
Raynell Hammer of Waukesha has had her share of ups and downs:
motherhood and grandmotherhood on one end, temporary homelessness,
job loss, a stay in prison, and an opioid addiction on the other.
alcohol, crack and pills. After being prescribed pain pills for
dental work, Hammer said, she got addicted to them — first it was
for pain, then recreation, then it became a habit, and she
eventually turned to heroin to feed the demon inside her.
But with the
help of Dr. Siamak Arassi and staff at Brookfield’s Healing Corner
Recovery Center, the mother of four and grandmother of four has
turned a huge corner.
“I have a new
life,” Hammer said this week. “In everyday life I was used to being
drugged up, on the streets. That was the only life I knew. ... Once
I recovered, I got to deal with feelings I didn’t know what to do
Dr. Siamak Arassi at the Healing Corner Recovery Center
in Brookfield holds a rod of buprenorphine on Thursday.
Four such rods are implanted into patients like Raynell
Hammer to deliver a constant low-level dose of a drug
used to combat opioid addiction.
The boost she
got was much more than a shot in the arm: It was an implant called
generic name being buprenorphine, one of the medications making up
the suboxone used by many with opioid dependencies to treat
After a year on
suboxone treatment with Arassi, Hammer was deemed a good candidate
for the therapy. Four 1to 1.5-inch rods containing the medication
were implanted in her left arm in April. They are good for six
months, at which time the implants will be removed, and new ones put
into her right arm. Then both arms are repeated over the two-year
Hammer said she
feels a difference daily. Under the fog of addiction, she barely had
energy to get out of bed and felt sick until she took the drugs her
body was craving. Now, she said, she feels “good. On suboxone, you
go up and down. You wake up, feel sick, take a suboxone and you’re
OK, but by the end of the day you feel like (crap). Here, it’s
level. This has got me feeling no sickness at all. I can just get up
Raynell Hammer points to the spot in her arm where she
received a buprenorphine implant to help her in her
battle against opioid dependency. She said the treatment
has made a profound difference in her life and helped
improve her daily functioning and relationships with
what is supposed to happen, with patients staying in a steady state
rather than the stress of highs and withdrawals, Arassi said. Having
the medication implanted is like a steady drip from an IV without
the IV — the best way to administer it, he said. He said
buprenorphine acts both as a opioid in the absence of opioids and as
a blocker when opioids are present. He said buprenorphine could be
used to counteract an overdose, but Narcan is quicker. He put it
into terms most Wisconsinites can understand.
“Think of it as
the Bears and the Packers. Both are football teams, both are in the
NFL. There is a musical dance here. One is going to win over the
other. Buprenoprhine/ suboxone is the stronger competitor. It acts
as a blocker and knocks (other opioids) out of the game.”
Arassi said he
was told by a representative of the firm behind buprenorphine that
he was the first in the state to implant the drug, in December of
last year, and with 17 patients similarly treated is also the
state’s leader. But what makes his practice different, he said, is
most clinics don’t do the supervised medicine intake, drug testing
and making sure patients follow through with other treatment.
Sessions with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other
counseling are key factors in assisting the implants for long-term
success and actually are mandated by authorities and the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for medication-
assisted treatment, he said.
first put on a months-long regimen of suboxone that gets them to a
point where none of them needs more than 8 mg in 24 hours, a
fraction of the maximum allowable. They must refrain from alcohol
and other drugs before the implants are even considered, he said.
“There’s lots of
things that have to change in one’s life to increase the odds of
success,” Arassi said. “You have to move away from the people and
stressors that lead you to use. Change that relationship. The
village has to change for the person to change.”
obstacles to contend with are the lack of public transit for his
patients to get to his office and insurance coverage. He also said
society needs to change its outlook toward and the stigma on opioid
addicts, and look at them as having more medical needs than criminal
He compared it
to diabetics who are unable to control their condition but aren’t
put in jail for it.
“We treat you as
a person with mental health needs. We don’t judge you,” he said. “I
think our website says it best: We meet you where you are to help
agree. She admits she gave Arassi and his staff “hell” in badgering
them for more suboxone prior to her implants. Now, she said, she is
restoring her life, working on her relationships with her children,
which have improved “tremendously.” One of them, himself battling
the addiction issues that Hammer said run in her family, and often
battling his mother along the way, told her recently she was his
role model. The others have told her they are proud of her, too,
She is again
reaching toward her goals: being a better mother and grandmother,
going back to school, running her own business with clothes and
“I think it’s a
second chance at life. I feel like I’ve got to make up for lost
time,” she said.
County launches new plan to fight opioid epidemic
By Jake Meister - Enterprise Staff
May 18, 2017
WAUKESHA — State
and Waukesha County officials unveiled Monday a new plan to combat
the heroin epidemic in Waukesha County.
The plan is made
possible by a $225,000 grant the county will receive each of the
next five years under the Wisconsin Prescription Drug/Opioid
Overdose - Related Deaths Prevention Project.
Department of Health and Human Services Director Antwayne Robertson
said the plan will train first responders and community members in
preventing opioid abuse and treating overdoses using four unique
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel speaks in
Waukesha on Monday during an event that officially
kicked off the county’s newest plan for battling the
Jake Meister/Enterprise Staff
strategies include: A countywide environmental scan to analyze the
risk in each community for heroin and opioid abuse; Free public
training on the proper administration of the opiate reversal agent
Narcan, as well as the free distribution of Narcan kits; Lessons on
opiate overdose prevention to be taught throughout the county; The
outreach of county crisis workers to individuals who have been
impacted by an opioid overdose.
“This is a proud
moment for us,” Robertson said of the plan’s launch.
Executive Paul Farrow touched on the Narcan administration training
process, describing the lessons as “fast and easy.”
Also speaking at
the event was Lori Badura, whose son Archie died of a heroin
overdose three years ago Monday. Badura, who has been a strong
advocate for opioid abuse awareness since her son’s death, praised
the benefits of Narcan training.
“You could be
walking down the street, and if you’re trained, you could save an
individual,” Badura said.
The county is
hosting a number of upcoming events related to Narcan training and
opioid abuse education, including: 3rd annual “Jump for Archie —
Jump for Life,” 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Oconomowoc City Beach, 910
N. Lake Road, Oconomowoc. Free Narcan training and kits will be
distributed throughout the event.
First in a
series of monthly Narcan administration trainings and kit
distribution, 5:30 p.m. June 1, 318 W. Broadway, Waukesha. The other
trainings will be held at this location on the first Thursday of
Force resumes its efforts Wednesday
By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff
May 2, 2017
CEDARBURG — The
next meeting of the Heroin Task Force is Wednesday.
The Task Force
has already met twice this year. At the first 2017 meeting, those
attending agreed that this year’s task force work has to be “active
Wednesday will take place at the Ozaukee Pavilion on the Ozaukee
County Fairgrounds, W67 N890 Washington Ave. in Cedarburg, from 5:30
p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The task force has begun work on several projects,
and split into work groups to plan and eventually execute those
projects. The public is invited to attend.
Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Hidden in Plain Sight project is a simulation for parents and
guardians of teens. A simulation bedroom will be built, and within
that bedroom approximately 200 items or warning signs will be
the Hidden in Plain Sight simulation will be given 30 minutes to
peruse the bedroom, looking for signs and seeing what they do or
The work group for lectures has already come up with a list of some
ideas for educational lectures that could be held.
include different speakers with experience or expertise in different
topics, such as professional, medical, personal or family
perspectives on drug use, addiction, warning signs, intervention,
recovery testimonials, law enforcement perspective and medical
effects and treatments for addiction.
The task force is also focusing on gaps in local support for those
suffering drug addiction. While there are support groups around
Ozaukee County, there are specific communities without groups
available, and even where there are groups, most communities do not
have them more than once or twice per week. Some people in recovery
could use more frequent support.
To learn more
about the Heroin Task Force or to get involved in a project, Ozaukee
County Public Health Educator Amy Kozicki can be contacted at
on local treatment providers, sober housing and other resources, go
Force to meet May 3
News Graphic Staff
April 18, 2017
CEDARBURG — The
Ozaukee County Heroin Drug Task Force will meet from 5:30 p.m. to
6:30 p.m. May 3 at the Ozaukee Pavilion, W67 N890 Washington Ave.,
The Task Force
was created in January 2014 in response to opiate and heroin-related
problems in the county. The issue touched everyone from babies born
addicted to opioids, to crime victims, to those who died of an
overdose and their families.
prevention guide for families is available for download on the
Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force website. The Wisconsin Department
of Health Services reports the rate of opioid overdose deaths has
almost doubled, from 5.9 deaths per 100,000 people to 10.7 deaths.
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
A parents’ guide
is also available for families to review. The download also provides
a coupon for a free home drug testing kit. It is available at
approves nine bills to fight opioid abuse
By Jake Meister - Freeman
April 6, 2017
WAUKESHA — The
Wisconsin State Assembly approved on Tuesday nine special session
bills designed to help combat the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.
Each of the
bills were recommended to Gov. Scott Walker at the suggestion of Lt.
Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette,
who co-chair Walker’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse.
The bills and
the purpose each serves, according to the Wisconsin State
Legislature, is as follows:
Special Assembly Bill 1 will protect public and private school
employees from any civil liability when administering an opioid
antagonist — such as Narcan — in an effort to save the life of
someone he or she believes might be overdosing on an opioid drug.
Special Assembly Bill 2 annually provides the Department of Justice
$2 million that it would disperse to counties for the treatment
alternatives and diversion program, or TAD. The TAD program allows
counties to establish programs that treat people with drug or
alcohol related offenses as an alternative to incarceration for
Special Assembly Bill 4 would prevent anyone from legally obtaining
the opioid codeine without a prescription. Currently, a schedule V
drug such as codeine can be provided to a person without a
prescription under certain circumstances.
Special Assembly Bill 6 allows for establishing a single charter
school for high school students who suffer from addiction. The
school, which will operate under a four-year pilot program, will
serve as many as 15 students.
Special Assembly Bill 7 is designed to increase the amount of
graduate medical training related to addiction. The bill would
accomplish this by awarding a total of $63,000 in additional grants
to hospitals for developing a fellowship program in addiction
medicine or addiction psychiatry.
Special Assembly Bill 8 is designed to create as many as three
additional opioid treatment programs in areas of the state that need
such programs. The current program, according to the state, requires
the Department of Health Services to create opioid treatment
programs in rural and underserved, high-need areas. Under this bill,
those areas wouldn’t have to be rural. The two to three programs
will receive up to a combined $1 million per year.
Under Special Assembly Bill 9, the Wisconsin Department of Health
Services would be required to develop and administer an addiction
medicine consultation program designed to help medical professionals
better serve patients with substance abuse issues. The program would
get $500,000 a year from the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice would get up to $420,000 a year
to hire new criminal agents that would investigate drug trafficking
under Special Assembly Bill 10.
Division of Criminal Investigation agent positions, approved as part
of this package, aid our efforts at the Wisconsin Department of
Justice to make our state safer and stronger,” Wisconsin Attorney
General Brad Schimel said, according to a press statement. “The
partnership between the medical community, law enforcement, and
policy makers is key to ending opioid abuse and I look forward to
continuing this fight together.”
Special Assembly Bill 11 will provide $200,000 annually for
developing a program that would teach educators to address mental
health issues in schools. The training is designed to help schools
identify alcohol or drug issues related to mental health disorders.
“The nine Special Session bills approved today will have a great
impact in Wisconsin as we continue to fight the prescription opioid
epidemic,” Nygren said in a statement. “We’ve focused our efforts on
expanding treatment and diversion (TAD) programs, improving access
to wideranging addiction medicine opportunities, and partnering with
law enforcement to fight drug trafficking.”
CUW to host
News Graphic Staff
April 4, 2017
Concordia University Wisconsin will host a symposium Saturday that
school officials hope will play a part in combatting issues
“Face to Face
with Heroin” will include various keynote speakers and breakout
sessions as it takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Mequon
campus, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive. The event is free and open to the
public. Reservations should be made by emailing
provide information about the biological, familial, community,
societal, legal and spiritual responses to the heroin epidemic, and
on what treatment and prevention means for the community, according
to a news release.
The event is
being spearheaded by students in CUW’s psychology program. Assistant
Professor of Clinical Psychology Tracy Tuffey said students
approached her with a desire to respond to the dire concern in the
community, and a task force, involving CUW pharmacy Professor Chris
Cunningham and Ben Rader of the Wisconsin Psychological Association,
was convened to organize the event.
“I had students
say to me, ‘Professor Tuffey, too many people are dying of heroin
overdoses, even young kids. We have to do something,’” Tuffey said.
“This effort has truly been a collaborative effort, and one that we
think will powerfully impact the community.”
9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. — Jessica Geschke, who will share her personal
testimony, having witnessed the effects of the epidemic firsthand as
an alcohol and other drug abuse counselor and president of the
nonprofit Stop Heroin Now.
10 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Chris Cunningham will speak on “Heroin 101: The
biology of addiction and possible solutions.” Cunningham is
assistant professor of pharmacy and pharmaceutical and
administrative sciences department director at CUW.
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – John Kumm, who will speak on “Combating
Heroin.” Kumm is a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and
head of the Heroin Task Force in Wisconsin.
sessions – from 11:15 a.m. to noon, and again from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
– participants will hear from medical, civic, legal, religious and
academic experts and leaders in the community.
The event will
culminate in a devotion and call to action. CUW students have
created a visual display which will symbolize the lives lost or
impacted by heroin.
promises to be a moving experience,” Tuffey said. “The CUW students
involved in this recognize that the heroin epidemic is breaking our
community, and with this symposium they want to leave a legacy of
hope, healing and all that is possible when people come together to
serve one another. How beautiful is that?”
room, more support groups part of anti-opioid effort
Heroin Task Force focused this year on producing outcomes
By Melanie Boyung - News
March 30, 2017
OZAUKEE COUNTY —
With nine opioid overdose deaths staring them in the rearview mirror
from 2016, the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force is working to make
progress on several initiatives this year.
The group held
its second meeting of the year at the county fairgrounds last week.
During its meeting last month, members agreed that this year’s work
needs to be actionable and productive.
what the gaps are. … We went through and identified what goals
really rose to the top,” said Washington Ozaukee County Health
Director Kirsten Johnson, who is one of those who runs Task Force
An estimated 30
people attended last week’s meeting and broke into three groups to
discuss and plan how different programs will be implemented this
Hidden in Plain Sight:
A simulation program for parents and guardians to learn what they
should look for to indicate drugs or other risky behaviors among
their children. The Task Force intends to build a teenager’s
bedroom; people attending the simulation are given 30 minutes to
peruse the bedroom, searching for approximately 200 items that could
indicate depression, drug or alcohol use or other dangerous
The group made
plans to visit an existing Hidden in Plain Sight setup – Washington
County has one already. The room is planned for a 12foot-by-12-foot
space, and once Ozaukee County’s is built, it can be located at the
Ozaukee Pavilion on the fairgrounds, W67 N866 Washington Ave. in
The Task Force
will try to obtain donations for the materials to build the exhibit.
Lecture Series: The
Task Force is planning an educational lecture series, which would
feature speakers who have dealt with addiction from a professional,
personal or family perspective. Amy Kozicki, public health educator
for the department, said they are hoping to run the series this
fall; it could be held in conjunction with the Hidden in Plain Sight
Ideas for the
lecture series included early intervention, indicators of substance
abuse; a panel of “unexpected faces” of addiction; recovery
testimonials; law enforcement perspective; effects of substance
abuse on families; faces of recovery: withdrawal, medications and
selected 30 minutes as a good length for lectures. Speakers could be
recruited from law enforcement, employers and the task force.
Volunteers would be used to distribute information on the lecture
Support Groups and Transportation:
The third group
discussed the need for additional support and involvement in the
community. While the group knew of some support groups in the area,
there is not a full network across the county. A list of county
communities was made for where additional groups could be formed.
goals included finding locations where addiction support groups can
be held and facilitators. One concern voiced was that even where
groups are available, many meet only once or twice a week, while
some people could use more constant support. Another suggestion made
was the possibility of online support groups. While concern was
voiced that some people might not be willing to discuss their
addictions online, those who are might be able to have more frequent
meetings. The other concern addressed was transportation, as some of
the people may not have a vehicle, a license or either. The group
discussed using a county van with volunteer drivers, and setting a
follow-up meeting with county staff to discuss it.
The task force
was started in 2014 as a multipronged approach to attack the heroin
epidemic in the county. In addition to the nine deaths last year,
there were 10 in 2015, according to Ozaukee County Coroner Tim
A study by the
Wisconsin Department of Health Services showed that in 2015, 73
people in the county were administered Naloxone, a drug used to
block the effects of an opioid in people who have overdosed.
For More Information
The next meeting
of the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force is set for 5:30 p.m. to 6:30
p.m. Wednesday, May 3 in the Ozaukee Pavilion, W67 N866 Washington
Ave., Cedarburg, on the county fairgrounds. For more information on
the Task Force or how to get involved, contact Public Health
Educator Amy Kozicki at
email@example.com or visit the Hope of Ozaukee page on
County and Elevate seek grant to address opioid problem
By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily News Staff
March 17, 2017
Staff from the
Washington County Human Services department will petition for
additional federal funding to address the area’s opioid problem.
Members of the
Human Services Committee offered their support Thursday when
Behavioral Health Services Manager Jaclyn Moglowsky approached them
and asked for direction in applying for a federal grant related to
treatment and diversion. There is no required match for this grant.
“We are asking
you guys to allow us to apply for this grant at this point,”
Moglowsky said. “It is going to allow us to add some additional
things that we’re already doing with our TAD (Treatment and
Diversion) grant that we have.”
Stolzenburg of Hartford walks from the reception desks,
where she works, to get supplies near a photo of her
hung Thursday afternoon at the offices of Elevate Inc.
in the Jackson. Her photo is hung with other faces of
addiction around the office. Stolzenburg is currently in
recovery. Elevate and the Human Services Department of
Washington County are partnering together to apply for a
federal grant for $400,000.
the accompanying committee report, the U.S. Department of Justice,
Office of Justice Programs and the Bureau of Justice Assistance
administers the grant, which could provide up to $400,000 in a
The funds would
support programs that would allow non-violent clients charged with a
misdemeanor and diagnosed with an opioid-use disorder to enter a
treatment program and avoid prosecution and sentencing.
mandates that funding recipients identify those who frequently
misuse opioids across multiple systems, document the prevalence of
those with the disorder at various intercept points, or engage a
research partner to provide skills and assistance in identifying
implementation stage will link those with an opioid issue to
treatment, implement a plan to screen those entering supervision
and/or jail for overdose risk, and reduce the risk of overdose
deaths and enhance treatment services for pretrial and post-trail
“It also allows
us to focus a little bit more on women, and specifically pregnant
women, and getting them a little but more options for services,
which we get a very limited number now, and being able to enhance
that will have a big impact on us,” Moglowsky said.
will partner with staff from Elevate Inc. based in Jackson to
administer the program and draft portions of the grant.
“We already have
one grant from the state of Wisconsin to implement TAD for opiate
offenders that will start accepting clients in June or July,”
Elevate’s Executive Director Mary Simon said. “This federal grant
will help us potentially expand the number for that program because,
right now, the state funding will only allow us to serve about 30
people a year.”
Simon hopes to
double that number with money they receive from the federal grant.
Simon added it
is an intensive drug treatment program where clients will be tested
for substance abuse multiple times each week.
Joseph Gonnering asked whether there is money to track patients who
fill their prescriptions at various pharmacies on the area to curb
incorporate more use of the PMDP,” Moglowsky said, a program that
tracks the prescriptions filled. “It is very helpful to know anyone
who is coming in and is prescribed an opiate or any scheduled
medication, the nursing staff does confirm whether they have had
other scripts filled and relay that information to the doctors. This
would be continuing to process those processes as well.”
GET TO KNOW
FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT
Corliss is Elevate’s point woman in the war on heroin
By GAY GRIESBACH - For the
March 16, 2017
lives by the motto, “If you want to make change, don’t raise your
voice, improve your argument.”
prevention manager at Elevate, started her career a long way from
in 1990 from Emporia State University in Kansas with a degree in
sociology and a minor in psychology, she moved to Sitka, Alaska,
where she spent 13 years working in the field of alcohol and drug
treatment and prevention.
She moved to
Washington County in 2002 to focus solely on drug and alcohol
prevention. When Elevate was formed through a merger of Nova
Services and The Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse in 2014,
Corliss took on her present role.
“I knew I wanted
a career in service, working with adolescents,” Corliss said.
Elevate took the lead in a community forum about the growing heroin
epidemic that drew more than 700 people to a forum at West Bend High
From there, a
group of about 60 people became the Heroin Task Force, each joining
subcommittees that focused on prevention, treatment and advocacy.
Ron Naab became
a member of the Task Force and got to know Corliss after he attended
extremely dedicated person, helping those affected by addiction,
whether it’s the individual or by supporting the family,” Naab said.
Corliss said the
Task Force has had some wonderful successes when it comes to getting
the word out about the connection between prescription drugs and
wake up one morning and use heroin. They start with marijuana,
alcohol, prescription pills. From there, they move to something
stronger, cheaper that has easy access. That is heroin,” Corliss
She said there
is evidence that heroin has become a public health epidemic. In
Washington County alone, over 100 people have died from drug
overdoses in Washington County since 2011.
who works in crisis intervention at Washington County Acute Care
Services, started working with Corliss on the Heroin Task Force two
brought a wider awareness of opiate addiction to the community,”
“I have great
respect for all of her efforts to get drug and alcohol education,
awareness, and prevention efforts out in the community,” Slinger
School District Superintendent Daren Sievers said.
Elevate’s latest effort — Hidden in Plain Sight — showed a
full-sized bedroom that had 35-plus red flags that signaled
potential drug or alcohol abuse.
Moraine Park Technical College with the help of the West Bend
Rotary, the life-sized Hidden in Plain Sight room was used to
educate over 800 people and kicked off a five-part lecture series.
Task Force subcommittees are still working on new strategies to
educate the public and passing additional legislation that would
make it more of a challenge to obtain large quantities of
Over the past 28
years, Corliss said her motivation hasn’t changed.
“I still want to
assist youth to make successful choices for their future,” Corliss
When she had her
own children, now in their 20s, it confirmed her belief, that there
is no one easy answer to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.
multiple strategies. If you have more than one child, you know one
strategy or motive won’t work for both,” Corliss said.
is the full-time director of alcohol and drug abuse services at
Affiliated Clinical Services, a member of the Heroin Task Force and
the president of a statewide nonprofit called Stop Heroin Now.
working with Corliss when she needed volunteers for Stop Heroin Now
constantly stepped up to the plate. She’s helped me organize rallies
that raise (money) for those that can’t afford treatment for their
addictions,” Geschke said.
her own nonprofit, Geschke has turned to Corliss for more than
mentor for me - she took me under her wing, gave me contacts and has
been a big sister to me,” Geschke said.
motivated by her faith, family and friends.
“Those are three
things that keep me going for a variety of reasons, both personal
and professional,” Corliss said.
lives in West Bend, has been married for 26 years to Mick Corliss.
The couple has two sons Jacob, 23 and Caleb, 20 and a dog, Lucca.
from what may seem like a daunting job, Corliss enjoys time with
Mick, who is a social worker, and turns to quilting, a craft she
picked up while living in Alaska.
“I like to be
able to look back on a finished product and know the story behind
it. I have one quilt — my dad lived with us for eight years and when
he passed away, I made a quilt out of all his dress shirts. When I
look at one square, I remember that dress shirt and places he was
at. It brings back happy memories,” Corliss said.
believes when things are at their worst, you have to have faith in
“I can’t imagine
doing anything different. I have always had the luxury to be in a
career I’ve chosen, that I’m passionate about and that I have the
support of my family and friends to keep going,” Corliss said.
looks at heroin addiction
By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily News Staff
Feb. 24, 2017
people took time out of their evening and made their way to Moraine
Park Technical College — not to attend class or participate in an
academic exercise, but to watch a video. For 20 minutes, attendees
watched as medical staff engaged in a mock exercise to save the life
of someone who overdosed on heroin.
The video was
part of the final lecture series event Thursday hosted by the
Washington County Heroin Taskforce, Elevate Inc., Moraine Park
Technical College and Rotary. The organizations had hosted similar
gatherings in previous weeks, all offering a different perspective
for an ongoing heroin issue in the area.
“I am always
impressed with the turnout,” said Ronna Corliss from Elevate. “It
really amazes me how many people are interested in this topic, are
willing to talk about this topic publicly, just the heartfelt
emotions that come with it.”
Barb Engel of West Bend braces her head on her hand as
she watches a video depicting a simulation of medical
officials treating an opioid overdose during the Hidden
in Plain Sight presentation Thursday night at Moraine
Park Technical College in West Bend.
Some of the
previous sessions included anecdotes of families whose loved ones
became addicted to heroin. They heard stories from those who are
struggling and the legal consequences of drug abuse.
They watched as
a group of nurses tend to the patient, learning his name,
ascertaining what happened, taking vitals and administering
They heard terms
that described his medical status, such as breathing rate and pulse,
and saw the track marks that were visible on his arm.
reacted as they watched as the patient hysterically describe his
history, how he became an addict and observed as he remorsefully
asked for assistance.
Panelist Jessica Geschke leans in to hear a question
with the Wisconsin Sharing Without Shame quilt displayed
behind her during the Hidden in Plain Sight presentation
Thursday night at Moraine Park Technical College in West
Bend. The blanket depicts the faces of addiction. The
gray squares represent people incarcerated, the white
squares represent people in recovery, the red squares
represent someone in active addiction and the black
squares represent someone who has died because of
The video was
meant to simulate the impact and danger the drug can have for those
who choose to use it, and the measures medical personnel must
undergo to reverse the effects. After the video, a panel of nurses
and advocates gathered at the front of the room to field questions
from audience members.
what how they can help a friend suffering from addiction, or whether
they will be turned into the authorities when transporting an
overdosed patient to the hospital. Many learned more about a drug
with the potential to save the life of someone who overdosed on
The learned they
could be certified to administer the drug, Narcan, that it is free
for those who choose to become certified, how it works and where
they can purchase it.
At the end, they
learned how they can memorialize someone they know who has suffered
from the disease. They can submit their loved ones’ names to place
on a quilt, called the Wisconsin Sharing Without Shame indicating
whether they are in recovery, succumbed to their struggle, or are in
prison for it.
“A big reason I
think it is important is because I have been there myself,” said
attendee April Wery when asked why she attended the workshop. “I
have many friends who have struggled with it and many people
affected by it.
Force ready to take action
By Melanie Boyung - News
Feb. 14, 2017
— The Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force is kicking things off for
2017, and plans to keep moving.
Between 50 and
70 people attended a Task Force meeting last Wednesday.
“We had quite a
few people from the community,” said Kirsten Johnson, director of
the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.
Ozaukee County Coroner Tim Deppisch, there were nine opioid overdose
deaths last year and 10 in 2015. He said that compared to
surrounding counties, where such deaths are much higher, things
could be worse here.
“I just think
everybody is doing their jobs in Ozaukee County and it’s helped,”
Johnson ran the
meeting with Amy Kozicki, public health educator for the department,
who said that the meeting was organizational, since it had not met
since early in 2016. The plan was to discuss goals and projects for
the coming year.
District Attorney Adam Gerol said participants went through a list
of subjects and then broke into small group discussions. They then
reconvened for further discussion.
that they asked attendees to consider what ideas and initiatives
were most important to them, and which they would be interested in
working on, as well as what gaps they see in Ozaukee County’s
current resources for addiction and substance abuse and any
resources they had to offer moving forward.
shared their answers and provided a discussion of what they thought
were the most meaningful ideas and changes we could make at a county
level,” Kozicki said afterward. “They also spoke a lot about
additional residential treatment and support for individuals
struggling with addiction need, as well as more early diversion
programs, mental health counseling, affordable treatment, access to
naloxone and gaps in insurance when needing support
Johnson said the
projects discussed for the coming year included increasing medical
education for providers, a new sober living house in Grafton for
women and an updated edition of the opiate and heroin awareness
also referred to as a prevention guide for families, is expected to
have a new version released this spring. W.I.N.D.S., which stands
for Women Integrating New Directions in Sobriety, runs a sober house
for women in Ozaukee County. The group posted online through
Facebook Friday that it has found a second location and will have
the facility up and running soon.
“Whatever we do,
this next year has to be actionable,” Johnson said.
The Heroin Task
Force intends to hold another meeting in March, though it is not
scheduled for a particular date yet. During that meeting, Johnson
said the group will formalize its goals and assign projects to
The Heroin Task
Force, which began in January 2014, includes five work groups: law
enforcement; policy and advocacy; community education; medical
education; and treatment.
for more information on the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force and its
work can email firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit the Task Force online at
general, FBI warn meth threat now rivals opioids
Feb. 9, 2017
MADISON, Wis. — Methamphetamine use has quietly
surged in Wisconsin and now rivals opioid abuse as the state's most
serious drug problem, Attorney General Brad Schimel and FBI agents
warned the Legislature's criminal justice committees Thursday.
Schimel and Justin Tolomeo, special
agent-in-charge of the FBI's Milwaukee office, presented the
committees during a hearing with a November law enforcement report
that shows meth use in the state has grown at a staggering rate.
According to the report, use increased between 250 percent and 300
percent from 2011 to 2015. The state crime lab saw a 349 percent
increase in meth cases during that span; heroin cases the lab
analyzed rose by 97 percent over that same period, the report found.
"While public safety officials, health care
personnel, and policy makers have been courageously battling opiate
addiction, it's time we begin fighting on a second front:
methamphetamine use," Schimel told the committees.
The report found rural areas, particularly
northwestern Wisconsin, are seeing the most meth use. Barron County
saw a 193 percent increase in meth-related arrests during that span;
the city of Prairie du Chien saw a 700 percent increase, according
to the findings.
Tolomeo said state laws limiting access to
prescription drugs such as pseudoephedrine used to manufacture meth
have driven down the number of home labs. But Mexican drug cartels
have been flooding the state with methamphetamine, relying on
Minneapolis-based gangs to distribute the drug in western Wisconsin.
He noted that heroin users are beginning to turn to meth out of fear
of overdoses and a desire to "level out" their highs. Meth is a
stimulant; heroin is a depressant.
Schimel told reporters after the hearing people
can become addicted to meth after just one use and many meth
distributors have taken to offering free samples to create
The attorney general told the committees that he
plans to use money the state Justice Department has won in legal
settlements to launch a meth awareness campaign similar to his "Dose
of Reality" opioid awareness effort. He added that the state
Department of Justice has secured a $1.5 million federal grant that
he plans to use to help fund local drug task forces, reimburse
sheriff's departments for overtime and hire another state crime lab
The hearing was meant to inform the committees
about the issue and the panels didn't take any action. Republican
Rep. John Spiros of Marshfield, who chairs the Assembly criminal
justice committee, told Schimel and Tolomeo that everyone's focused
on fighting opioids and he had no idea meth had become such a
Members of both committees pressed Schimel for
solutions. Democratic Rep. Evan Goyke of Milwaukee asked if
lawmakers should consider harsher penalties for possessing meth;
Sen. Van Wanggaard, a Racine Republican who chairs the Senate
committee, asked whether providing more money for the DARE program
so officers can educate kids about the dangers of meth in schools.
Schimel responded that he supports DARE but tight
budgets have forced many local police agencies to drop the program.
As for tougher criminal penalties, he said meth addicts don't think
rationally and tougher sentences won't deter them from using the
drug. The best path is educating people about the drug, he said.
"As we've seen, we've found ways to control the
supply of ingredients to make methamphetamine," he said. "The source
simply shifted to Mexican cartels. When we arrest a trafficker,
there's so much money (at stake) that someone else just slides in.
We will not win this battle unless we address the demand side."
solutions to heroin, opioid addiction
Panelists gather to discuss ongoing epidemic
By Dave Fidlin - Special to
Feb. 7, 2017
WAUKESHA — Like
many teenagers, Reese was inquisitive in his formative years. The
character trait had its positives, but it also led to a downward
spiral of negatives that could have cost him his life.
last name is not being divulged, is a recovering heroin addict. He
was one of more than a half-dozen speakers at a panel discussion
Saturday that put a spotlight on the ongoing war against drug
U.S. Sen. Tammy
Baldwin, D-Madison, facilitated the forum, which was held at
addiction treatment facility SALS Recovery Houses and Coaching in
Reese, who grew
up in western Waukesha County, lives in Waukesha. A smile came
across his face as he revealed he has been drug-free for more than
seven years, though he has endured a series of trials and triumphs
since making that pivotal decision.
For Reese, the
path toward a serious drug addiction did not occur overnight. The
seed, he said, was planted when he began drinking alcohol.
“It wasn’t as
bad as I had heard,” Reese said of the first time he was
intoxicated. “Nothing terrible happened.”
Thinking he was
invincible, Reese’s experimentation eventually led to taking heroin
intravenously, oftentimes in the company of friends.
up, Reese revealed to the panel he keeps a photo album of nearly 30
persons he has known personally who succumbed to drug addiction.
threat heroin, opioids and other dangerous drugs pose in the suburbs
has been widely trumpeted in recent years. Despite the recent
attention, however, the number of deaths continues to climb.
Baldwin said she
convened the panel discussion, in part, to bring people from
disparate backgrounds together and help create meaningful solutions,
including state and federal
eradicate the epidemic. At the forum, Baldwin pointed to some of the
legislative steps she has taken toward the effort.
Last week, she
was one of three federal lawmakers who wrote a letter to President
Donald Trump and said abolishing the Affordable Care Act without a
replacement would wipe out $5.5 billion currently allocated toward
addiction services across the U.S.
Saturday’s roundtable discussion included local lawmakers, a
representative of law enforcement and the professionals working on
the front lines of addiction recovery treatment.
Supervisor Christine Howard, who lost her brother to drug addiction,
said one of the simplest changes is in the hands of society. She
said the stigma surrounding the condition can be an impediment
sometimes disheveled appearance, Howard said, she took her brother
shopping and did what she could to help him.
Not long before
he died, Howard said, she told her brother what he taught her
throughout the difficult journey.
“We are an
amazing family now,” she said. “We are caring, and we are not
professionals said one of the greatest challenges in resources — and
they were quick to point out state and federal funding is as
important now as ever because the epidemic is not waning.
From his vantage
point, Joe Muchka, director of the Waukesha- based Addiction
Resource Council, said his organization and others like it are at
risk of losing staffing in coming years, in part because certified
personnel who specialize in addiction are aging out of the
“We’re at a
great risk of losing the workforce we need,” Muchka said.
executive vice president of Milwaukee-based Sixteenth Street
Community Health Center, was among the panelists who echoed the
sentiments in Baldwin’s letter about the potential ramifications
concerning changes to the ACA.
there’s ongoing funding is critical,” Schuller said. “This is an
solution to the heroin and opioid epidemic remains elusive,
panelists agreed, though many speakers agreed strong collaboration
and multiple plans of attack could bring meaningful solutions.
prosecuting and detaining isn’t the end-all solution,” said
Delafield Police Chief Erik Kehl, who pledged several years ago to
step up efforts after his community lost two persons to drug
“There has to be
something else,” Kehl said. “I think it’s a greater societal issue.
I think we have to address it from multiple avenues.”
Report shows drop in opioid prescriptions
Feb. 7, 2017
WAUKESHA — More
than 10 million fewer opioid prescriptions were dispensed in the
fourth quarter of 2016 compared to that quarter in 2015, according
to the findings of a report publicized Monday by the Wisconsin
Department of Safety and Professional Services.
The report, the
second conducted by the Controlled Substances Board on the success
of the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, states that
the number of opioid doses dispensed to patients between Oct. 1 and
Dec. 31, 2016 decreased by more than 11 million compared to that
time frame in 2015.
indicates our efforts throughout Wisconsin to fight prescription
drug abuse and misuse are working,” Governor Scott Walker said,
according to the press statement issued by the Wisconsin Department
of Safety and Professional Services.
According to the
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services’ statement,
there were 1,261,095 opioid prescriptions dispensed in Wisconsin
between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015, which is equivalent to 82,874,267
drug doses. The Controlled Substances Board report shows that
between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, there was an 11.7 percent
reduction in opioid prescriptions and a 13.3 percent reduction in
drug doses dispensed when compared to quarter four in 2015.
Additionally, there were 3,142,961 fewer opioid doses dispensed in
quarter four 2016 than in quarter three 2016.
The report also
includes information on the number of requests for data made by
health care professionals about their patients, the number and
makeup of reports submitted by law enforcement, and data on doctor
shopping and pharmacy hopping. It further provides information on
the number of individuals receiving both opioids and benzodiazepine
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program was deployed in June 2013.
Since its inception, the program has primarily been a tool to help
health care professionals make more informed decisions about
prescribing and dispensing controlled substance prescriptions to
patients, according to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and
Professional Services. It also discloses data as authorized by law
to governmental and law enforcement agencies.
renews rebate deal for heroin antidote
Feb. 2, 2017
Attorney General Brad Schimel says the state has renewed a deal that
provides public entities with rebates on an opioid overdose
Schimel issued a
news release Wednesday saying he has renewed an agreement with
Amphastar Pharmaceuticals that calls for the company to continue to
provide a $6 rebate for each Amphastar naloxone syringe public
entities purchase through Feb. 1, 2018.
often branded as Narcan. It can be administered as a nasal spray or
injection and can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within
Walker signed a bill in 2013 that permits first responders and
paramedics to administer naloxone if they’ve received the proper
Force to resume after 10 months
By Melanie Boyung - News
Jan. 24, 2017
— The Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force is meeting in two weeks, for
the first time in nearly a year.
The Heroin Task
Force is scheduled to meet Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m. The last meeting of
the Task Force as a whole was April 11, 2016, according to Amy
Kozicki, the public health educator for the Washington Ozaukee
Public Health Department.
She said there
are subgroups of the Task Force that have met over the past year,
but a meeting of the whole group has not occurred.
“Waiting to see
what the state would do, we kind of put it on hold,” Kozicki said.
task force was formed last September to address the opioid use and
addiction issues in Wisconsin. Earlier this month, Gov. Scott Walker
issued three executive orders pertaining to the heroin crisis: Order
228 directed several state agencies to take action combating opioid
abuse and addiction; Order 229 directed Wisconsin Department of
Health Services to apply for federal grant funding through the State
Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant; and Order 230 convened
a special session of the Legislature to address the crisis and its
effects in Wisconsin, including a list of fund allocations toward
the Ozaukee County Heroin Task Force is going through best-practices
now, deciding how to align the local efforts with the state, which
will be part of the February meeting.
just the Task Force getting together, restructuring and setting
goals for 2017,” Kozicki said.
efforts will support the local Task Force, but more action is called
for, according to many. Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol,
who is involved with the Task Force, said all the local intervention
in the world won’t stem the source problem.
“There needs to
be a ‘broad spectrum’ effort by the federal government against the
product. The very best of therapy or treatment can’t compete when
the entire region is swimming in high quality, inexpensive heroin.
It’s like being asked to stick to a diet when your neighborhood is
filled with fast food restaurants and candy stores. You see it every
day, smell it every day and are surrounded by temptation, Gerol
Gerol has been
active with the Task Force and many local efforts to remove heroin
from Ozaukee County. Even so, he says that these efforts need to
keep growing and expanding until they are universal throughout the
American government, and not just in individual states and counties.
“None of the
heroin we see, or the fentanyl, comes from this county. Until we do
something meaningful to interdict and damage the flow of drugs into
this country, we’ll be chasing our tails. Only the federal
accomplish this and I’ve seen no true focus on this part of the
equation in recent years,” he said. “If some nation or criminal gang
had exported a poison or a biological agent that had caused the
deaths of this many Americans, we would have declared war against
them,” Gerol added.
information on the Heroin Task Force meeting and its agenda will be
available as the meeting draws closer. It is open to the public, and
scheduled to meet at the Ozaukee Pavilion, in the Ozaukee County
Fairgrounds, at W67 N866 Washington Ave. in Cedarburg.
prompting the increase in armed robberies?
reflect drug crisis, police say
By Lauren Anderson - Freeman
Jan. 21, 2017
WAUKESHA — In
recent weeks, communities around Waukesha County have seen incidents
of armed robberies and burglaries in unusually quick succession.
This week, two
were charged in Waukesha County Circuit Court with armed robbery of
a Delafield PDQ store on Wednesday in which a robber brandished a
knife before making off with about $172.
Also this week,
a man was charged with a count of attempted robbery with a threat of
force, after he allegedly asked the owner of Lares Fashions in
downtown Waukesha to put money into an envelope that contained an
Police Department is currently seeking information regarding two
chalices that were stolen earlier this week from St. Joseph’s
Those are just a
few examples among a string of alleged crimes this week throughout
the county. And while there isn’t a definitive answer about why
there has been a recent rash of incidents, law enforcement officials
say a general increased trend in robberies could reflect the drug
addiction is that bad,” Waukesha Police Capt. Dan Baumann said.
“What we’re seeing is these drug-fueled crimes that people are going
at any lengths necessary, just shy of violent crimes against persons
— we’re not seeing an increase in substantial battery or homicide —
but we are seeing an increase in property crimes.”
aren’t unique to Waukesha area, but local communities certainly
nationwide issue,” Baumann said.
Baumann said, as more businesses install surveillance equipment,
police departments can release footage of the incidents, which
raises the community’s awareness of them.
“I think that’s
the reason it’s becoming more pronounced,” Baumann said. “We’re able
to release a picture and/or video of these violent crimes to the
community, whereas before it would just be a little blurb. The
reality is a video or picture speaks more volumes compared to a
couple of sentences.”
When it comes to
deterring such crimes, Delafield Police Chief Erik Kehl said, his
department puts an emphasis on patrolling potentially affected
“I think seeing
more patrol cars in the business area is going to have people
considering, ‘Well, I don’t want to do it because I’ll get caught,’”
he said. “We try to make sure our presence is known.”
business are likely to increase their security measures in the wake
of such incidents, including more surveillance and glass barriers.
“I think that
mom-and-pop feel is going to be a thing of the past,” Baumann said.
He added that
while attention is often paid to the amounts stolen and whether
there were any injuries, the other effects of an armed robbery on
victims shouldn’t be discounted.
property crime of loss of the money at the gas stations or banks,
but the bottom line is you have a victim that is traumatized for the
rest of his or her life,” he said.
When an armed
robbery is underway, Kehl said, the best course of action is to obey
the robber and not put oneself at risk.
“Do what they’re
told, especially when it’s a threatened armed robbery,” Kehl said.
“Give the money and try to be as observant as possible.”
The clerk who
was a victim of this week’s armed robbery at the PDQ gas situation
Kehl said, was a “textbook” example of what to do in such a
scenario, as he took note of the suspect’s description and his
vehicle, which ultimately helped in police detaining him.
opiate medication deaths remain prevalent in county
Fentanyl, synthetics pose cause for additional concerns
By Jake Meister - Freeman
Jan. 7, 2017
WAUKESHA — The
number of drug-related deaths in Waukesha County throughout 2015 was
almost the same as in 2014 despite the fact heroin-related
fatalities increased during that span, according to case numbers
recently compiled by the Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Several of the
cases from 2016 are still pending and the final figures for that
year aren’t likely to be completed until near the end of the year,
Waukesha County Deputy Medical Examiner Kristine Klenz said .
predict at this point whether the figure from 2016 will decrease or
increase from 2015,” Klenz said.
In 2015, the
office counted 49 drug-related deaths, 39 of which were accidents,
seven by suicide and another three were undetermined. The previous
year included 50 drug-related death cases, 40 of which were deemed
In 2012, the
office completed 59 drug-related cases — the highest amount it’s
encountered since at least 2008.
Users favoring both
heroin and opiate medications
amount of heroin-related death cases completed
in 2015 was 20, five more than the previous year. The number of
deaths related to opiate medications was 23 in 2015, compared to 29
during the previous year, according to the office’s findings. The
office investigated two deaths in 2015 where morphine was
identified. However, it could not be determined whether the morphine
originated from heroin or a prescription.
number of drug-related cases the Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s
Office closed in 2015 was one less than 2014, Klenz said what the
numbers convey is that the county is far from victory.
“We had one less
death, but to me, that’s essentially the same,” Klenz said.
She said it’s
not encouraging to see the amount of deaths related to heroin usage
have become increasingly similar to the amount of deaths related to
the use of opiate medications.
In 2011, the
office completed 35 cases where opiate medications were related to a
death, compared to the six cases which were related to heroin. Since
then, the total amount of heroin-related deaths the office
investigated has not dipped below 11 in any calendar year, and the
amount of opiate medication- related deaths has not gone above 29 in
It takes some
time for medical examiner offices to release finalized death figures
because they typically have a lot of tests and a lot of results to
Klenz said it
takes at least 10 weeks to get the preliminary set of results back
from a toxicology panel. After those results are provided,
additional testing may be needed to complete the case.
One test the
Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office has began running more
often, according to Klenz, is an examination of a body for the
presence of analogs of Fentanyl.
Institute of Drug Abuse defines Fentanyl as a “powerful synthetic
opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine, but is 50 to 100 times
Fentanyl, according to Klenz’s description, are doses of Fentanyl
which have been modified from their original state.
Klenz is also
discouraged by the potential for Waukesha County to be impacted by
new classes of synthetic substances.
One of the
substances Klenz cited is U-47700, a synthetic opioid that she said
is relatively new to her office.
such as U-47700 are not classified as either heroin or prescription
drugs, any death related to those substances would not be projected
in the figures released by the medical examiner.
“That’s just a
testament of how new the (synthetic opioid and and analogs of
Fentanyl) substances are to us,” she said.
fight against opioids
week, Gov. Scott Walker provided new orders to state agencies on how
to continue the fight against the state’s pres cription opioid and
heroin epidemic during a special session of the Wisconsin State
According to a
statement provided by Walker‘s office, the orders stem from a report
issued by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Rep. John Nygren on
Thursday titled “Combating Opioid Abuse.”
Nygren are the co-chairs of Walker’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse.
“This is a
public health crisis, and that’s why I’m calling a special session
of the legislature and directing state agencies to ramp up the
state’s response,” Walker said in a statement. “I thank Lt. Gov.
Kleefisch and Rep. Nygren for making these recommendations, the work
of the task force, and the many first responders, medical
professionals, and family members who are on the front lines of this
Walker provided during the session came through Executive Orders
228, 229, and 230.
according to Walker’s office, are as follows:
Executive Order 228 directs state agencies to take additional action
to combat opioid abuse and addiction based on the recommendations
made by Kleefisch and Nygren.
Executive Order 229 demands the Wisconsin Department of Health
Services file applications for federal funding developed by the
passage of the 21st Century CURES Act, which will make as much as
$7.6 million available annually for two years to state programs
involved in the response to the opioid crisis through the State
Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant.
Executive Order 230 requested the Wisconsin State Legislature meet
in the Thursday special session to act on legislation related to
various topics pertaining to the use of drugs.
“I thank Lt.
Gov. Kleefisch and Rep. Nygren for their report and tireless efforts
highlighting the harm drug abuse and the opioid epidemic are causing
throughout Wisconsin,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said in a press
“As chairman of
the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,
I commit to serving as a partner when federal assistance is
required,” Johnson said. “Together, we will continue working to
reduce the harm that the abuse of these drugs causes.”
New year, old
Drugs pervasive in Ozaukee County’s rising crime
By Gary Achterberg - News
Jan. 5, 2017
— Lanile Kimbrough Jr. sat next to a public defender in the Ozaukee
County jail Tuesday as Circuit Judge Sandy Williams worked her way
through the initial appearances of the 10 people taken into custody
over the long New Year’s weekend.
Milwaukee man has the dubious honor of being 2017-CF-1, the first
person charged here with a felony this year.
background and the current charges are any indication, brace
yourself for more of last year.
set a record in 2016 with 393 felony criminal complaints. That’s a
15.3-percent increase from 2015. Either directly or indirectly,
experts say it’s fueled by drugs.
charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana,
second-offense possession of cocaine and possession of drug
deputy pulled over the car in which Kimbrough was a passenger on
Interstate 43 in the town of Grafton at about 9 p.m. last Sunday.
The driver – Kimbrough’s brother – was arrested for operating while
intoxicated. The Sheriff’s Department K-9 officer came to the scene
and indicated drugs were in the car, according to the complaint.
A search turned
up 18 baggies of marijuana packaged for distribution and a 3.1-gram
rock of cocaine in Kimbrough’s underwear. Deputies found a digital
scale in the car. They determined Kimbrough was on probation and had
prior Milwaukee County convictions for possession with intent to
deliver cocaine and ecstasy, according to the complaint.
seeing more people like Kimbrough. Last year, 60 percent of all
requests to the district attorney for charges involved suspects who
live outside Ozaukee County.
Attorney Adam Gerol said when he was hired as an assistant
prosecutor in 1992, police rarely saw heroin – “now we see it
frequently.” In Gerol’s first year here, there were 117 felonies;
the number has more than tripled.
The increase in
felony charges isn’t just due to people being charged with drug
crimes, although drugs are at the root of many cases, Gerol said.
credit card frauds, the identity thefts, the retail thefts of
significant amounts,” he said. “All in all, you’ll find drug
activity in there somewhere.”
The drug cases
are getting more serious, too. Ozaukee County prosecutors charged
three people last year with first-degree reckless homicide –
so-called Len Bias cases
involving the delivery of drugs that led to a death.
Another case, charged in 2015, concluded late in 2016 when a jury
found Shuntaye Crenshaw, a Milwaukee man, guilty of driving to
Mequon to sell heroin to a Concordia University Wisconsin student,
who was found dead of an overdose the next morning in his dorm room.
prosecutors and judges take drug crimes seriously in Ozaukee County.
All police departments in the county contribute resources to the
Anti-Drug Task Force, which frequently sets up drug deals with
undercover officers. Prosecutors have started charging individuals
for drug deals that occur in Milwaukee County if they can prove the
drugs were intended for distribution here.
tend to be stricter. The man pulled over on New Year’s Day never
spent a day in prison after pleading guilty in Milwaukee County in
2015 to the two felony drug-dealing charges, according to court
The impact of
drugs in Ozaukee County goes beyond the courthouse.
executive director of Starting Point of Ozaukee County, an
organization that offers substance abuse prevention and intervention
resources, said the problem runs deeper than the rising crime
surprised, unfortunately,” he said. “A lot of (drug) habits can be
really expensive. The only way to keep things going is by stealing,
forgery, shoplifting – you name it. A lot of times, I think it just
depends on how crimes are coded. They enter the system and we find
out later there is a drug component.”
Halula said he
and his staff have seen an increase in calls from loved ones seeking
help for a child, spouse, brother or sister.
Much of the drug
activity involves I-43 – like Kimbrough’s case – and communities
just off the freeway.
“We border the
largest city in the state and do see many of our investigations
taking officers and detectives back to Milwaukee in an effort to
solve them,” said Mequon Police Chief Steve Graff, who added the
city is not the quiet farming community is was years ago.
“There is a lot
more activity, which keeps our police officers very busy,” Graff
said. “Whether the offender was under the influence at the time of
the crime or whether he or she was committing a crime to make money
to buy drugs – or both – drugs are a constant in many of the crimes
coming into the area is produced in Asia, South America and
elsewhere, Gerol said.
Ozaukee County do to stop it? In the grand scheme of things,
nothing,” he said. “It has to be a national effort. To me, one of
the great benefits of increased border security is the ability to
treatment in the world will fail if you’re swimming in heroin,” he
added. “We have to attack the supply.”
overdose deaths spike in 2016
task force to be announced this year
By DAVE FIDLIN - Special to
Jan. 5, 2017
MILWAUKEE — Opioid abuse has
grabbed countless headlines, sparked numerous neighborhood-level
meetings and brought together people from different professional
backgrounds. But recent statistics reveal more work lies ahead.
Although a spotlight has been
beamed on the dangers of heroin in recent years, fatalities stemming
from it and other drugs remain a pervasive problem, as evidenced by
year-end statistics out of the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s
Following an upward trajectory
throughout the year, county officials have confirmed at least 290
drug-related overdose deaths throughout 2016. The number is
tentative and could increase once investigations into a number of
pending cases are concluded.
According to data from the
medical examiner’s office, opioid overdose deaths within the county
have more than doubled within the past five years — from 144 in 2012
to the 290 confirmed cases in 2016.
While the dangers of heroin have
been widely circulated in recent years, the drug prevention
conversation is beginning to shift toward fentanyl, a potent,
synthetic prescription medication that is used to relieve pain
quickly. Its ability to work rapidly has also resulted in its
The medical examiner’s office
began teaming up this past year with the Medical College of
Wisconsin to distill recent data and look into future prevention
The number of fentanyl-specific
overdose deaths has been credited with at least some of the increase
during the five-year period under the microscope.
In 2012, five of the 144
overdoses within the county were linked to fentanyl. In 2016, at
least 77 cases have been confirmed, based on the closed cases.
“Fentanyl is a powerful and
dangerous drug that we see more and more frequently in overdose
cases,” Brooke Lerner, a doctor leading MCW’s analysis, said.
Part of the problem, Lerner
said, is the amount of misinformation on fentanyl and its dangers.
“In some cases, users may know
that fentanyl is present, but in many cases, it may be mixed into
their drugs without their knowledge,” Lerner said. “Fentanyl is
always dangerous when used without medical supervision.”
The city of Milwaukee also is
joining in on the effort to review data and seek out new solutions.
Alderman Michael Murphy last month announced his intent to form a
city-county task force aimed at delving deeper into the issues of
drug abuse and overdoses.
Alderman Michael Murphy
Murphy went before the city’s
Public Safety Committee in December to discuss the task force and
said more specifics will be revealed this month. Interest, he said,
has been strong.
“I want to make sure we’re
including all of the right participants,” Murphy said of the new
task force at the Public Safety Committee meeting. “There’s been a
strong response so far.”
Murphy listed Milwaukee County
District Attorney John Chisholm and at least one representative from
the local U.S. Attorney’s office as likely participants in the task
force, as well as a cross section of other persons with insights to
bring to the table.
In a news release, Murphy said
the task force is a response to the statistics.
“It’s alarming because (drug
overdose deaths) are getting more attention than ever before, and
yet still the rate of overdoses is climbing,” Murphy said in the
In a region as diverse as
Milwaukee County, Murphy also pointed out opioid overdoses impact
people across a wide spectrum of demographic statistics.
“The breakdown of data by race,
by age and by geographic location shows the problem is as ubiquitous
as ever,” Murphy said. “Absolutely anyone in any part of the county
can fall victim.”
The city’s Public Safety
Committee is expected to further discuss and act on the member
composition of the task force later this month.
BY THE NUMBERS
Opioid overdose deaths in
2012 — 144
2013 — 181
2014 — 220
2015 — 231
2016 — 290 (tentative)
Source: Milwaukee County
Medical Examiner’s Office
introduce legislative proposals addressing heroin
Andrea Fencl - Freeman Staff
Dec. 15, 2016
OCONOMOWOC — State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Town of Oconomowoc,
finished his Coalition to Combat Heroin on Dec. 13 and from it has
created several legislative proposals.
According to a press release the coalition began in August when
group members discussed heroin’s transition from medicine cabinets
to the street. The group was divided into three teams of
Over-Prescription, Education and Criminal Justice, who met
separately to come up with bill ideas and solutions.
“Kids in our community are dying,” Kleefisch said in a phone
interview. “We need to pull out all the stops, and some stops will
In a press release, Kleefisch stated that he plans to introduce
several legislative proposals at the turn of the year.
“We want to give better access for heroin-sniffing dogs to police
and school districts that suspect opioids on school grounds and at
school activities,” he said.
After seeing the success of random drug tests at Arrowhead High
School and the Oconomowoc Area School District, Kleefisch wants to
make random drug tests a necessity.
“As horrifying as random drug tests can be, the death of a child at
the hands of heroin can be much more horrifying,” he added.
Kleefisch also mentioned that there needs to be a way to find drug
users and that police say finding them is the key to finding drug
“We’re looking at a proposal to have prescription drop boxes in
every county so over-prescribed opioids don’t end up in the hands of
potential users,” he said.
The final legislative proposal Kleefisch mentioned was to make
possession and distribution of any future synthetic forms of heroin
releases new PSA on heroin abuse
Nov. 30, 2016
Attorney General Brad Schimel’s newest public service announcement
warns Wisconsinites about the dangerous link between prescription
painkillers and heroin through a fictional yet realistic account of
one young man’s journey from sports injury to drug overdose, a
reality faced by many people across the nation.
The PSA was
released on Tuesday.
“We will only
end the opiate epidemic if we prevent additional victims from
getting hooked in the first place,” said Schimel. “The content of
this ad may seem shocking, but this epidemic has claimed thousands
of lives in our state over the last decade and the reality of heroin
use and its link to prescription drugs needs to be brought to the
forefront.” Schimel’s Dose of Reality public awareness campaign
launched in September 2015. The campaign’s goal is to inform and
educate the public; warn about the dangers of inadequate storage and
disposal of prescription painkillers; inform each audience about the
role it plays in education and abuse, from businesses to the medical
industry to schools to young people; and to encourage positive
action in response to the opioid epidemic.
information and materials to share on prescription painkiller abuse
in Wisconsin, go to:
18 indicted in
Believed to be connected to two county deaths
By Brian Huber - Freeman Staff
Oct. 31, 2016
Eighteen people have been indicted in a drug network believed to
have been the source of at least two overdose deaths in Waukesha
County, and which has supply lines running from Philadelphia, Pa.,
Chicago, Florida and Puerto Rico, according to documents filed in
federal court this week.
Officers in June
executed search warrants at five Milwaukee residences and two in
Kenosha that are believed to be connected to distributing drugs
shipped through Chicago, according to a 113-page search warrant
affidavit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin.
A spokesman for
the U.S. Attorney’s office could not be reached for comment Friday
afternoon. But according to the document, two recent drug overdose
deaths in Waukesha County were directly connected to the network.
In one case,
Amanda Ebert died in Summit Oct. 29 of a fentanyl overdose. The
person who procured what was believed to be heroin for her, Samantha
Muehlbauer, 32, was convicted in circuit court of delivering
narcotics. Muehlbauer was sentenced to five years of probation, 250
hours of community service, and up to 50 days in jail, along with an
order to continue cooperating with the investigation.
while in a Milwaukee hospital, received heroin from Jason Rivera,
35, of Milwaukee, and had to be revived with Narcan, the federal
Rivera also was
charged with reckless homicide in the case, but the charge was
dropped as he was part of the federal investigation, online court
records indicate; he was among the men indicted in the case.
In another case,
Elm Grove resident Cody Schoos died of a fatal heroin overdose June
21, 2015. An investigation showed he’d been in contact with Ramon
Elizondo, whose phone shows he then contacted a phone used by
members of what the federal document referred to as the Rivera drug
affidavit, authorities described how they used informants and phone
and vehicle trafficking to monitor alleged sales, money-handling
activities and conversations between various members of the
organization. Thus, the affidavit said, authorities tracked the
progress of multiple kilograms of heroin in Illinois and Wisconsin
and into the Milwaukee area. One suspect was tracked to Kenosha and
later stopped in a car, possessing a bag containing $42,000 in cash,
the affidavit said.
Heroin’ offers urgent message about addiction
Special to The Freeman
Oct. 28, 2016
WAUKESHA — As a packed crowd entered the auditorium at Waukesha
South High School Tuesday night, parents, students and members of
the community saw stage risers full of shoes.
Each pair — 190 in total — belonged to a young person who died
from a drug overdose in Waukesha County in just the past few years.
Tyler Lybert, who abused drugs for 12 years, spoke at
this week’s “Stairway to Heroin” program at Waukesha
South High School. Lybert sits among the pairs of shoes
of teenagers who died in Waukesha County due to drug
courtesy of the Waukesha School District
That visual backdrop set the tone for “Stairway to Heroin,” a
program that offered raw dialogue and sobering statistics. Opiate
drug overdoses have now surpassed car crashes as the leading cause
of death in Waukesha County, and as Wisconsin Attorney General Brad
Schimel pointed out, the source is often in our own medicine
Prescription drugs — painkillers such as OxyContin — are killing
young people at alarming rates, according to the presentation.
One in five teens abuse prescription drugs.
Contributing to the problem is that people often share
prescriptions with others, thinking they are safe because they are
prescribed by a doctor. Schimel said four out of five heroin users
start by abusing painkillers. One solution, Schimel said, is to keep
prescription drugs locked up.
Other speakers included a mother who identified herself as
Melanie C. She lost her teenage daughter to a drug overdose after
trying heroin for the first time with her boyfriend. Melanie showed
graphic photos of her daughter dying in a hospital bed, and then
added a pair of shoes to the display on stage.
Dr. Timothy Westlake of Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital said drug
overdoses in his emergency department have no boundaries. The
hospital sees girls, boys, rich and poor kids. He said too many
people depend on drugs for chronic pain and encouraged usage of
Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain management.
Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper and Chris Kohl from
the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department reminded parents to be
vigilant about their children’s friends, activities and mobile
The Lybert family ended the presentation with an emotional
account of their 12-year addiction journey with their son, Tyler.
Tyler and his sister, Ashley, were joined on stage by their parents,
Rick and Sandy.
serve on opioid abuse task force
By Brian Huber - Freeman Staff
Oct. 27, 2016
WAUKESHA — When
the State Task Force on Opioid Abuse convenes Friday in Green Bay,
some of Waukesha County’s leaders will be part of the effort to
combat Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic.
Walker’s office announced the formation of the task force and its
members, saying they will meet for the first time Friday. Among the
20 people serving on the panel, those with Waukesha County ties
include Attorney General Brad Schimel; Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch;
who co-chairs the panel; and Circuit Court Judge William Domina.
In 2014, more
Wisconsin residents died from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle
crashes, and the number of drug overdose deaths in the state doubled
from 2004 to 2014. Prescription opioid pain relievers contributed to
47 percent of the 843 drug overdose deaths in 2014, while heroin
contributed to 32 percent, state figures show.
made great strides to combat opioid abuse in Wisconsin, this task
force is a unified effort to help end opioid abuse and overdoses in
our state,” Walker said.
Domina, who was
named 2015 Judge of the Year by the State Bar of Wisconsin in large
part for his work on Waukesha County’s Drug Treatment Court, thanked
the governor for his confidence in him. “When I became a judge and
was assigned to complex criminal and juvenile matters, I was stunned
by the connection between prescription painkillers and heroin
dependency and criminal behavior,” Domina said Wednesday. “I was
also struck by how young and normal the individuals were who found
their way into my court. These addicts almost all started the same
way — with use of opioid medication ... This is why I agreed to
serve as the first drug treatment court judge and to be active on
Others on the
task force include state Rep.John Nygren, co-chair; state Sen. Leah
Vukmir; state Sen. Janet Bewley; state Rep. Jill Billings; officials
from the state departments of Corrections, Safety and Professional
Services and Health Services; and members of law enforcement as well
as the state pharmacy society, hospital association and medical
society and other health organizations.
awareness program continues
Event to be held Oct. 19
By Jonathan Richie - Special
to the Enterprise
Oct. 13, 2016
OCONOMOWOC — There are many misconceptions about addiction: it
isn’t a disease, it just shows a weak spirit; gateway drugs are far
more dangerous than anything a doctor can prescribe; and heroin
could never seep into my family.
The heroin epidemic has spread throughout the country and into
our community. Oconomowoc School District along with their partners
are doing something about the heroin epidemic that has spread into
the community by helping to break down these stigmas.
Oconomowoc High School is sponsoring the event Deadly Decisions
as part four of the Stairway to Heroin program on Oct. 19. There
will be a resource fair with educational materials designed to help
families at 6 p.m. and the event will begin at 6:30 p.m., both are
open and free to the public.
“This is one of those events that parents need to put on their
calendar,” said Scott Bakkum, school counselor and AODA coordinator
for Oconomowoc High School. “This one is different, it’s coming from
a different angle and with additional information.”
Bakkum is one of nine speakers for the event and he will focus on
parenting strategies. The speakers will cover other sides of this
“It is an impactful combination of factual information provided
by a law enforcement perspective, mental health perspective,
treatment perspective and personal testimonies provided by those who
have experienced the devastation and loss associated with alcohol
and/or drug abuse,” Katie Westerman, coordinator of the Stairway to
Heroin Educational Series, said in an email.
Bakkum said it’s important for parents to feel they’re not alone
“I think there ís still a stigma out there. It’s hard to come to
terms when it’s your son or daughter or even yourself struggling
with it,” Bakkum said. “We have to overcome this, because addiction
is a disease.”
Stairway to Heroin is a part of Your Choice to Live and began
working with the school district in the spring of 2014 with their
first program. It focused on the overall experience of drug
addiction and recovery. The second program is specifically designed
for younger children and risk factors they face.
“Wake up Call” is third in the series and takes parents into a
teenager’s bedroom and shows how unruly it can be and highlights
possible signs of drug and alcohol use including paraphernalia.
Deadly Decisions puts focus on how young people in this transitional
phase and how they’re predisposed to drugs, in any form.
“Our district is committed to this,” Bakkum said. “We’ve had
excellent administrative support and they’ve been amazing along with
the school board.”
Bakkum also said the feedback he has received in over 1,500
surveys from optimistic parents saying how important this has been
for their families.
“We believe that it takes a community coming together to
effectively address this problem and tackle it,” Westerman said.
Your Choice to Live has been expanding throughout southeast
Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
To register for the event visit
All other information about these events can be found at
Breakfast addresses opioid abuse
By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily
Oct. 1, 2016
entered the Washington Fair Park facilities and couldn’t help but
notice them — photographs placed on an easel that begged for
attention. On them were portraits of the fallen, the survivors and
those still recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
Such was the
scene as local, state and federal officials entered the Park
Pavilion at the Washington County Fair Park on Friday for the fourth
annual fall 2016 Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Washington
County Taskforce and Elevate Inc.
“It is import to
have elected officials at the table with us, and they are very busy
people,” Elevate Executive Director Mary Simon said. “Sometimes they
weren’t able to make it to our meetings and found it harder to
communicate with them. We thought, ‘Let’s bring them all together
and give us a chance to communicate with them and to communicate
with us.’” Seated in a line at the front was the panel, including
members of the Washington County Board of Supervisors, West Bend
Mayor Kraig Sadownikow and state officials like Sen. Duey Stroebel
and Rep. Bob Gannon, who answered questions from a moderator.
In the crowd
were citizens, municipal administrators and county department heads
interested in finding a solution to the community’s drug and alcohol
The first topic
introduced was an opportunity to divert drug and alcohol cases from
the court system to a path more suited to treatment such as drug
courts. Nearly all the panelists responded in the affirmative,
although some had caveats.
the transition, provided there was a method to identify those who
will benefit from the program early in the process. Sadownikow
preferred evaluating issues on a case-by-case basis. There are some
it would benefit, but he believes prison is appropriate for those
who make the issue a persistent problem.
County Supervisor Kristine Deiss said she supports it, but funding
and procedural matters are an issue.
“We have four
judges and in a county with a population of 110,000 people, compared
to some others who have five judges,” Deiss said. “When that state
gives us that fifth judge, we can seriously look at providing a
Christopher Bossert said county administrators did not apply for a
grant because there weren’t enough resources to have a drug court.
“When I said I
would support a drug court, I would support a drug court and the
funding necessary to do it, but I would do it similar to other
legislators and offer a tough-love drug court,” Gannon said. “If you
are not ready to make immediate changes to your lives and about to
be incarcerated, and enter this period of rehabilitation, we have a
prison system that will take you.”
question is about the legalization of marijuana, similar to states
such as Colorado, and all panelists said they would decline to pass
“I have yet to
hear an employer say more of their employees should show up high,”
Sadownikow said to the applause of the crowd. “I have yet to hear a
teacher say, ‘I wish more of the kids would smoke dope in class,’
and I have yet to hear to say police or fire department they are
bored because they are not pulling enough people off the streets
that are doing drugs.”
Bossert said he
would be responsive to examining the issue of legalizing parts of
the plant such as cannabis oil for medicinal purposes that have no
value in terms of recreational use.
was to use zoning laws and funding to create an area designated for
those struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Gannon said he
didn’t think it was effective and Supervisor Michael Miller agreed.
“I would not be
in favor of zoning for this type of housing because when I look out
and ask, ‘Which one of you would like it in your neighborhood?’
Everybody would say, ‘I really like it, but I don’t want it in my
neighborhood,’” Miller said.
including Deiss, said it was a plan to get victims the help they
dealt with financing, including contributions from municipalities
when it comes to matching funds for grants and where the opioid
issue stood in the county’s priority-based budgeting process.
A majority said
they are open to contributing funds for a grant and Bossert said
some opioid programs are listed as the highest priorities while
smaller initiatives are in the second to lowest priority.
answered questions submitted by the audience. One asked why drug
companies were not required to fund treatment for those struggling
with addiction when it their products contributed to the problem.
“You don’t want
to go there, and I know your heart tells you to, but think this all
the way through,” Gannon said. “Before you know it, GM (General
Motors) is going to be responsible every time you do something
stupid with your car.”
Simon said the
goal is to create a dialogue between legislators and their
“I think we
achieved that,” Simon said. “I think there was some good discussion
on both sides of the table about what we are doing.”
The next step
will be to follow up with panelists and petition for needs, either
through financial donations or in kind activities.
discusses priorities in fight against opioid epidemic
By Karen Pilarski - Freeman
Sept. 28, 2016
WAUKESHA — The
Waukesha County Heroin and Other Illicit Drug Task Force met on
Tuesday. The county has a multi-pillar drug strategy focusing on
prevention, harm reduction, treatment and law enforcement. Wisconsin
Community Health Alliance President Dorothy Chaney said the
individual pillars meet as often as needed but the task force meets
two or three times a year. They have been working on this issue for
two years. Chaney said they have miles to go, but the task force
works well together.
experience, public health issues take up to 10 years to see a real
outcome. Chaney explained the group has laid a strong, solid
foundation to leverage tangible solutions.
“We can get
leaner and meaner,” Chaney said.
Chaney led the
task force in group discussions about what priorities need to be
addressed. Some of the gaps shared in the larger discussion included
assistance for pregnant women who are addicted to opiates, reducing
the stigma of addiction and the need for prescriber education.
of Waukesha County Birth to Three Program Linda Wetzel expressed the
need for more support for pregnant women who struggle with opioid
addiction. She discussed the need to increase awareness of babies
who are born drug addicts, educate providers and provide better
screening to address treatment before a woman becomes pregnant.
Wetzel also expressed the need for more gender-specific services in
the county and incorporating family support.
was brought up due to the Waukesha County International Drug
Overdose Awareness Vigil in August. Several comments indicated
people were ashamed to discuss a loved one’s addiction due to that
discussed included resources for the elderly population with opioid
addiction, Naloxone training and finally the need for more funding.
The task force
plans on meeting next in October.
task force to battle opioid abuse rise
Sept. 23, 2016
MILWAUKEE — Gov.
Scott Walker is taking additional steps to combat the rise of opioid
abuse in Wisconsin by creating a task force aimed at stemming the
misuse of the powerful painkillers, which officials say contributed
to nearly half of the 843 drug overdose deaths in Wisconsin in 2014.
Thursday signed an executive order setting up the panel tasked with
making recommendations on fighting abuse of pain relievers, such as
oxycodone and hydrocodone. He named Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and
Rep. John Nygren to lead the panel. Nygren, whose daughter has
struggled with drug addiction, has been at the forefront of
legislation to fight drug abuse in Wisconsin.
The task force
includes the secretaries or designees from the state corrections,
insurance, health services, safety and professional service
departments as well as Attorney General Brad Schimel, several
legislators, law enforcement, health officials and citizens. They
are expected to meet in the coming months to map strategies, the
his order at a Milwaukee Walgreens drug store to highlight the
chain’s drug take-back program. Walgreens has installed medication
disposal kiosks at 18 stores around the state where citizens can
drop off unused or expired medications, including controlled
‘‘The more drugs
we get out of people’s home and into places like this, the safer
we’re all going to be,’’ Walker said. ‘‘Even if you’re coming in for
a soda and a bag of chips, it’s easy to drop it off.’’
stores with disposal bins are in Appleton, Brookfield, Greenfield,
Janesville, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Marinette, Menomonee Falls,
Milwaukee, Oconomowoc, Racine, Sheboygan, and Wausau.
also made naloxone, an opiate antidote commonly called Narcan,
available without an individual prescription at all of its
pharmacies in the state.
year, Walker signed a number of bills aimed at slowing opiate abuse
by creating more guidelines on dispensing prescription opiates.
Marinette Republican, wrote the eight-bill package as part of his
so-called Hope Agenda, a series of reforms to fight heroin and
opiate abuse. He began the initiative after watching his daughter,
Cassie, struggle with heroin addiction.
synthetic heroin; Kleefisch praises decision
By Freeman Staff and The
Sept. 21, 2016
MADISON — On
Tuesday, the state’s Controlled Substances Board voted to make
U-47700, a synthetic heroin, illegal in Wisconsin, effective Nov. 7.
As it is
chemically different from heroin, U-47700 is currently legal in the
state. According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the
drug is easily and cheaply accessible, with many obtaining it
through the Internet.
developed in the mid-1970s as a painkiller. The drug is eight times
more potent than morphine and has been linked to at least 50 deaths
nationwide. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued notice
earlier this month than it intends to outlaw the drug effective in
State Rep. Joel
Kleefisch, R-Town of Oconomowoc, praised the board’s decision. “In
our fight to stop the deadly effects and addiction of heroin, the
Controlled Substances Board’s action today is a major victory,” said
As the board’s
action is temporary, either a permanent rule will need to be put in
place, or legislation must be passed to make the change permanent in
state law. Kleefisch has drafted legislation that will make U47700
permanently illegal in Wisconsin.
drug illegal is just the first step of our work here in Wisconsin,”
said Kleefisch. “We need to keep the public informed of the dangers
of opioid use and abuse and do whatever we can to aid law
enforcement and help save lives in Wisconsin. Our Coalition to
Combat Heroin is working hard to find ways to help stop heroin
addiction and deaths in our state.”
Candlelight vigil held in honor of West Bend woman who struggled
with drug abuse
By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily News
Sept. 20, 2016
The pangs of
raindrops from a storm whose intensity varied throughout the evening
were a constant presence for the scores of people at the Silver
Lining Pavilion at Regner Park on Monday evening.
When it was
time, they raised their Dixie cups, filled not with drinks, but with
small candles. They collectively illuminated the darkness as they
watched in somber silence as two adolescents sang a song.
were different ages and backgrounds, but were there for a single
purpose — to honor the life of a friend, relative and loved one they
Jason Casey of West Bend holds his daughter Serenity
Krueger as the two raise candles in memory of Casey’s
stepdaughter and Krueger’s sister, Dakota Krueger,
during a candle light vigil Monday night at Regner Park
in West Bend. The vigil was held in memory of Dakota
Krueger and for those that have lost loved ones to
heroin or other drug abuse. Proceeds from the event will
be given to the Krueger family.
Lost to heroin memorial ceremony in
Dakota Krueger succumbed to her illness Sept. 7, and died due to a
heroin addiction. Her sister, Serenity Krueger, learned of her
passing when their father called her from the bedroom to the
downstairs area with her mother and police officer waiting.
“I had been
waiting to get this call for four years,” Serenity said. “I had been
waiting to hear my sister is dead. You prepare for so much, but you
can’t really prepare for it at all. So I sat down and saw my mom
crying and I already knew what he was going to say. I just broke
She was told by
others there weren’t many other ways it could end.
“For me, I had
known it was going to happen,” Serenity said. “People would tell me,
‘They would end up in jail or end up dead.’ She has already ended up
in jail, so I knew the next thing coming, unless she got clean
somehow, she was going to end up dead, so I had been expecting the
began with an abusive relationship.
“My sister was
with a guy when she was 18 and he was an alcoholic,” Serenity said.
“One night, it
got abusive and he broke her jaw. She had to go on painkillers, and
she got addicted from there. They got too expensive, so she went to
Luminary bags set out with messages written on in
support of loved ones that have passed away from drug
abuse are seen during Monday’s candlelight vigil.
Dakota was in
and out of treatment facilities, remitting and relapsing. Serenity
remembered the painful times — the arguments, the emergencies when
her mother would go to meet Dakota and the anxiety and depression
she endured because of the tumultuous situation.
Through all of
that, Serenity also remembered when Dakota was in recovery.
“When she was in
rehab, she does so well,” Serenity said. “She would understand
things, realize what the problem was. That she had a problem and
needed to fix it. She would get closer to us and understand where we
were coming from.”
remembered Dakota’s life prior to the addiction. She remembered her
sister’s free-spirited personality, someone who challenged
convention and was excited to live.
reflected about the woman who enjoyed coloring books and loved to
play with animals.
“She was very
loving,” Serenity said. “That was the most I have ever seen her love
anything, when she was around animals. She treated them like they
were her own kids. She liked being around animals more than she
liked being around people.”
Travis Derosier, 17, of West Bend watches his candle
burn as he is comforted by a friend during a candlelight
vigil Monday night at Regner Park in West Bend.
She thought back
to the times when the family traveled to Wisconsin Dells and played
swimming a lot,” Serenity said. “We went to Wizard Quest and she
loved going in there, and I would want to go there with her.”
remembered the times she recovered.
similar times, including the vivacious young woman who was not
afraid to tell other people what she thought of them.
“Before all this
she was pretty level-headed,” said her godmother, Luan Sabish. “She
loved her family. She loved everything and was always smiling.”
She told of a
woman who enjoyed the Mall of America, was spunky and lived life to
Even in the
midst of remembering who she was, her loved ones long for what she
could have been.
“She could have
been a lot,” Sabish said. “She could have been someone who could
have gone far. I think if she got past all this and become the
person she wanted to become, she could have been so many other
people’s roots with their addictions and their struggles.”
Dakota wanted to be a marine biologist and after her addiction, had
a passion to help people as a drug and alcohol counselor.
prevention coordinator for Elevate Inc., helped organize the event,
Regner Jams, for three years, but said the candlelight vigil is a
“The vigil is
brand new,” Hilleman said. “We threw it together in about a week.”
They did it for
Serenity and show support for her.
“I am so
grateful for all the people who put this together,” Serenity said.
“It means so much to me that I have this strong support system.”
opioid epidemic hits our home and yours
Brother lost to overdose was good man with fatal habit
By Brian Huber - Freeman
Sept. 17, 2016
My brother may
not have been a shining example for all mankind, but then again, few
of us are.
But his death
is yet one more clarion call to all of us about what’s going on in
homes of every stripe across America.
On Labor Day,
my brother Matt — Matty, to us — died at 41, one of 13 who died of
probable drug overdoses in Milwaukee County over the holiday
weekend, one of thousands across the nation who have lost their
lives in the whirlwind of opioid addiction. The sounds of my
mother’s heart breaking, the sight of my father’s tears, the
crushing feeling of seeing it coming and our worst fears being
realized, will be forever etched on my heart.
And then, a
week later, there he was on the TV news, footage from an incident
involving him and his girlfriend in March. They were a previous
version of what happened in Ohio last week, where a couple was
photographed passed out in a car on drugs, with a child in the back
seat. The people who found my brother contacted my friends at
Channel 12 and there it was, video of them oblivious to their
surroundings. Victoria shaking off the haze, coming to after getting
a Narcan shot, while Matty is still splayed out on the sidewalk.
incident, both went into treatment. Victoria cleaned up, but had a
bump in her supervision. I knew Matt had a relapse at least once.
But when I saw him a week before his death, I could see he was much
better, he’d been clean or much cleaner. And then Labor Day weekend
— the rest of the family but me out of town, he got high, and the
whirlwind came, the breath of God to take him home.
Matt was the
third of four sons but always the biggest boy of the family, earning
a short-lived nickname of
House on the high school football field. Fittingly he
was a headstrong man whose heart was always in the right place,
someone willing to do almost anything for anyone he knew. He lived
large, loved larger, but despite his stubbornness was enslaved by
opioids. The pull of addiction for most is stronger than the flesh,
and even the spirit. Even Houses fall. Even rocks crumble under
pressure over time.
He had the
biggest shoe size of my brothers, and leaves deep footprints in the
lives of many more than we know. And his shoes will be present at
his funeral service next week. I want them there as a visual
reminder when I deliver his eulogy, signifying that we can’t judge
another man until we walk in his shoes — and, frankly, Matt’s shoes
won’t fit most and can’t be filled by anyone.
The whirlwind howls
As a Freeman
editor and reporter, I’ve seen this happening, knowing it could
happen to us. As of Thursday, in Milwaukee County, where we live: In
2015, there were 254 fatal drug overdoses; this year is on track for
288. In 2011, there were 180. Opioid-related deaths: 231 last year,
on pace for 288 this year. Fentanyl, the powerful painkiller used as
a cutting agent, was involved in 30 overdoses last year; this year
it’s on pace for 75.
“But I think
we’re gonna see a lot more than that. This does not take into
account August or this month,” said Karen Domagalski, operations
manager at the Medical Examiner’s Office there.
whirlwind is howling: In the last seven weeks alone, there were 71
probable drug overdoses in Milwaukee County — 10 a week, more than 1
a day. The city is on track for 75 fatal car accidents this year.
The overdose rate in that short time is about triple the annual
“That’s what we
hear from other families, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a question
of when,” she said.
County, in 2015 there were 44 drug-related deaths; 21 of them were
related to opioid medications — the legal pharmaceuticals. Another
18 were related to heroin. Kris Klenz at the ME’s office here tells
me there have been 15 drugrelated deaths so far this year, but there
are numerous cases still pending, so that number certainly will
And it’s not
just about counting the dead — so far this year in Waukesha County,
114 people have been charged with simple possession of narcotics.
Will they follow my brother’s footsteps to the end?
Opper: ‘No shame,
no stigma’ to opioid addiction
understanding, I reached out to District Attorney Sue Opper, whose
job entails working with families whenever this happens to them. Her
advice is useful to families everywhere, no matter whether their
children have died from opioid use, or are using now, thinking it
won’t happen to them even as it happens to their friends.
message I try and send to the families is there is no shame, there
is no stigma,” Opper said. “I have met so many people from so many
different backgrounds that this isn’t a
look-down-your-nose-at-somebody type of issue where your loved one
is a junkie or your loved one is an addict. It’s been so
far-reaching and so many families and people from all walks of life.
... These are good people who don’t wake up and say, ‘I am gonna be
an addict today.’ These are good people with good families and good
lives who are sucked in by this evil.”
But Opper said
there are ways to break through. Treatment programs abound, and
always are available even to people, like my brother, who encounter
initial success and make measurable progress in improving their
lives before falling off the wagon. There are success stories in
such programs and in the county’s Drug Treatment Court of people
getting out from under their addiction.
tried to kid anybody into thinking it’s easy,” said Opper. “There
are success stories. There are people in recovery. It can be done.
It is it easy? No. It takes every ounce of the addict themselves and
the community. ... They are in the fight of their lives.”
people are noticing the toll this is taking — churches, community
groups, law enforcement, legislators. Klenz told me mine was just
another of the families who have done all they can to help a loved
one who tries with uneven results to change his life.
A warning to the
Yes, it sucks
to have some of the family’s dirty laundry aired on TV. Yes, it hurt
a friend and us to know people were trashing Matt’s memory. But I
maintain that unless those people are themselves addicted to opioids,
or lost someone like this, or have someone in their lives who could
be lost like this, they mostly don’t know. Those people didn’t know
Matt. They didn’t know his problems or his strengths.
But my family’s
conviction is to let our hurtful truth be a warning to the world, to
maybe break through to even just one person, whose own footsteps can
affect countless other lives, so Matt’s death won’t have been in
happened, I learned more people in my life than I knew were in a
similar situation: the childhood friend who we lost touch with whose
dad died at 44. The former co-worker of mine from my hash-slinging
days whose longtime boyfriend was another of the 13. The middle
school buddy of mine who had a friend succumb the same way years
later. Klenz’s message rings true for all of us: “The final outcome
of a person’s life doesn’t define who they were.”
I hope all you
Channel 12 viewers out there would agree.
haranguing a very good reporter who was doing his job, I called him
asking to relay a message to his source. I told him to tell her I am
sorry her kids had to see that, and, more importantly, that I said
to thank her for making a difference.
We as a family,
a community and as a nation are experiencing a range of emotions:
Profound sorrow and piercing anger at our loss. Relief that our
loved ones are free from their mortal suffering. Frustration that
there are no easy answers.
The support of
our friends and family from all our lives supports us as the
whirlwind whips the waves around us. So are we all in this together,
each connected to the others, the fabric that make up our human
tapestry of any size.
maelstrom of the past two weeks, I heard from a friend of Matt’s I’d
never known, who had lost his own mother just this way years ago.
But he, too, got lost in the fog of addiction. He said he was the
one to get Matt into a support group. Matt repaid the favor by
offering the support his friend needed to find a way back to the
light, where he has been clean six months running, even as Matt
couldn’t find a way out of the fog. This man lost another friend to
opioids, too, and he said simply, “This has to stop.”
So, when it’s
your family, your son, daughter, sibling, or a friend or a child of
one who may have, like Matty, been a Scout, an altar boy, a kind and
funny man who lost his way and refused or ignored the voices
pleading with him to correct his path, all that matters is this:
What will you do to make a difference?
the road to addiction recovery
doctor provides glimpse into fighting a number of addictions
By Jake Meister - Enterprise
Sept. 8, 2016
Addictions come in many forms. Gambling, sex, legal and illegal
substances — all are things that have taken over the lives of
countless individuals of varying socioeconomic status, race, gender
and vocation. Though the probability of overcoming addiction often
seems too overwhelming for many, moving past the dilemma and taking
back control of a person’s life is possible in the majority of
cases, said Dr. Michael M. Miller, medical director of the
Herrington Recovery Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital.
practiced addiction medicine for more than 30 years. He worked
through the cocaine epidemic that swept the nation from about 1980
to 1995. He has also helped to put a dent in a heroin and opioid
epidemic that he believes is beginning to just now peak despite the
fact that it started around 1995.
Miller said the
governmental and media focus of both opioid and heroin abuse is
completely justifiable and that the issue hasn’t been overstated,
especially as it relates to rural communities. Despite the bleakness
of the epidemic, Miller believes that there have been strong
indications that medical professionals, law enforcement and courts
have made some headway in the fight against the epidemic. Though he
cautioned that it will take some time, Miller believes that the
epidemic will eventually be defeated if the issue is handled
Dr. Michael M. Miller works with many patients fighting
addictions as the medical director of the Herrington
Recovery Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital, pictured
Getting addicts on
the road to recovery
Though there is
a variety of addictions, the mindset of all addicts tends to be
quite similar. Miller said that in most cases, an addiction
continues for an individual because he or she will tell themselves
that the problem isn’t as bad as it truly is.
It isn’t until
someone steps in (maybe a pastor, family member, friend, or the
criminal justice system) and lets the addict know that the addiction
is indeed a crisis, that an addict will realize that there is a
watching what’s happening have a pretty clear idea that there is an
issue,” he said.
Just because an
addict has successfully been persuaded to come to Rogers Memorial
Hospital, that doesn’t mean that he or she is completely committed
to taking back control of their life. In some cases, Miller said the
addict will still be ambivalent, and as a result, they will attempt
to bargain with fate or cut any corner to make the path as easy as
possible. For example, Miller said someone who is addicted to a
substance might tell themselves that they will get off of the
substance with the plans of later returning to the substance once
the habit is more manageable “It’s human nature to not believe
you’re a failure ... so people tell themselves they can handle it,”
It’s when an
addict has not only come in to receive treatment, but has also
accepted the fact that they must take the proper course to recover,
that the improvements often begin.
“A lot of
people say ‘for so long I thought I can handle it,’” Miller said.
“They say ‘I’ve proven to myself that this isn’t working and I need
to come in.’”
If the correct
methods are used, the probability that a willing addict will improve
their life and take control of the addiction that has hobbled it is
greater than that of a coin toss. In fact, Miller said addiction
treatment is quite effective and that recovery can usually be found
through a carefully calculated treatment plan encompassing a bevy of
help fight some addictions. For example, there are a number of
Federal Drug Administration approved medications for treating
addictions to opioids, alcohol, and nicotine. For those addictions
and many others, Miller recommends a person also receive
psychosocial treatment — something he said is as equally effective
as all classes of drugs.
When the two
methods are used in conjunction, that’s when treatment is most
every patient should have an opportunity to get medication and
physiological treatment,” Miller said.
Miller’s favorite methods for psychosocial treatment of addictions
and what they entail according to his definition are:
Group therapy: A method that Miller believes to be more effective
than individual therapy as the number of people involved can help to
provide a setting that is more emotionally effective.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: A hands-on psychotherapy that
challenges the thoughts of an addict, their assumptions of
themselves and what they believe to be the impact of their
behaviors. Miller said this therapy helps to rid addicts of the
excuses they make for why their life is troubled. Typically, addicts
will not blame those troubles on their addiction prior to receiving
Motivational enhancement therapy: A therapy that helps addicts to
develop more acceptance of their need to change. The setting for
this type of therapy is very supportive as opposed to older
psychological treatments that involved confrontational methods.
Those older treatments, which used to be popular, have been proven
to be ineffective, said Miller.
Family and friend-oriented therapy: This form of therapy can involve
input and assistance from a spouse, child, parent, or friend of the
patient. This form of therapy is often conducted in a large group;
however, a single isolated group involving one addict and their
friends or family can also be conducted. These closed sessions
typically last about an hour and often take place once a week.
Experimental therapy: This unique form of therapy can involve the
incorporation of art, recreation, movement or other things. Art
therapy shows an addict how enjoyable life can be without drugs by
introducing the person to the joys of creating artwork. Recreational
therapy helps addicts to better construct their schedules and fill
their leisure time with positive activities, something addicts often
have trouble doing, Miller said. Movement therapy introduces an
addict to physical actions, such as yoga or dance, that can help
fill a physical void with something positive. For more information
on Roger Memorial Hospital go to
those LEFT BEHIND
Observing International Drug Overdose Awareness Day
By Karen Pilarski - Freeman
Sept. 1, 2016
WAUKESHA — People wore purple ribbons and
held candles as they wept on Wednesday evening during a vigil to
observe International Drug Overdose Awareness Day. In the north
parking lot of the Waukesha County Courthouse, a crowd gathered
to reflect on the lives lost to the growing epidemic.
Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said
bringing awareness to the opiate epidemic is one of his goals.
“We have a huge drug
problem in Waukesha County,” Farrow said.
County Supervisor Christine
Howard said in 2015, 44 people in the county died of drug
overdoses in the county. While the statistics may be jarring, it
was the stories of lives turned upside down that sent a jolt to
those listening in the crowd.
Words are power
Dennis Radloff launches a hot-air balloon in memory of
the 44 people who died of opiate overdoses in Waukesha
County last year during a candlelight vigil on Wednesday
evening. Radloff is the chair of the harm reduction
pillar of the Waukesha County Heroin and Illicit Drug
Through tears, Autumn Berg
spoke about the death of her brother Kenny Kuzel, who died of a
drug overdose. Berg said her brain has chosen to block out many
memories of the pain she has experienced.
“If I think really hard I
can remember the good memories — they are blurry at the edges
but they are still there,” Berg said.
She spoke of trying to rid
her mind of bad memories of growing up fast and the pain her
brother’s addiction had on the family. The drug epidemic doesn’t
just alter the addict, but shakes his or her family’s
Lauri Badura spoke her son
Archie Badura, who died in 2014. She was quite candid about her
son’s battle, describing the time when he ingested an opiate
patch and was foaming at the mouth in jail. The Badura family
gives out bracelets that say “pay it forward;” they want to
inspire others to start a conversation about drug abuse.
Archie’s brother Augie Badura, 19, said he is glad everyone is
coming together for events like the vigil. When he gives
presentations, young adults have come up to him and shared
stories of their own struggles.
“My story can be anyone’s
story,” he said.
holds a candle aloft during a vigil on Wednesday night
for the victims of drug overdoses.
Jean Humphrey spoke
of her son Thomas Pike, who had a fatal overdose in
2009. He died after a man who gave him drugs took off
with Narcan and left him to die. She said it isn’t just
her family who suffered but also the family of the man,
who is currently in prison.
Humphrey said her son had
an outgoing personality and loved his children.
“Thomas lit up a room. You
could be mad at him and in less than two minutes he could have
you laughing,” Humphrey said.
If one person hears her
story and decides not to use drugs, Humphrey said, that is one
life and one family not hurting.
Dennis Radloff of The
Healing Corner encouraged people to talk with each other to
reduce the harm of drug addiction.
“The lives lost are not
junkies, they are sons, daughters, children, grandparents. They
are loved and valued,” he said.
After lighting candles,
Radloff lit a floating lantern and sent it up to the heavens
above. From afar it looked like a beacon of hope gliding past
the courthouse into the Waukesha community.
wants to ban synthetic heroin
Aug. 31, 2016
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin legislator says he plans to
introduce a bill outlawing a new synthetic drug.
Kleefisch, an Oconomowoc Republican, said Wednesday that he
plans to introduce a measure banning the sale and possession of
U-47700, a synthetic opiod.
The drug is nearly eight times more potent than morphine and
has been linked to at least 50 deaths nationwide. Racine County
Sheriff Christopher Schmaling says U-47700 has killed two people
in his county.
Kleefisch says the chemicals in the drug mirror heroin but
are different enough that it's stayed off Wisconsin's controlled
The next legislative session begins in January. Before he can
introduce his bill Kleefisch will have to survive a re-election
challenge from Marshall Democrat Scott Michalak in November.
The fight to
By ALEX BELD - Daily News
Aug. 24, 2016
Stop Heroin Now
is hosting the Stop Heroin Rally on Saturday to spread education and
awareness on addiction.
there have been more than 100 overdose deaths in Washington County
related to the use of heroin and other opiates.
“We call it a
rally simply because we want people to come together,” Stop Heroin
Now President Jessica Geschke said.
Jessie Geschke of Affiliated Clinical Services hugs
Douglas Darby of Green Bay after Darby spoke about his
addiction to heroin at last year’s Stop Heroin Rally.
rally features a dunk tank, brats, kids’ games and face
painting for children while parents and other family
members can find the resources they need to get support
for treatment or legal needs.
educate themselves through available resources and speakers at the
event. State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Affiliated Clinical
Services co-owner and psychologist Jim Giese will both speak.
thinking a lot about my message,” Giese said. The current perception
of addiction is that it is simple, but it is actually a multifaceted
and complex issue, he added.
To raise funds
to help addicts and families with these complex issue there is a
50/50 raffle. The proceeds help pay for treatment.
some people have limited resources when returning from prison and
can’t afford to get the help they need. “We’ll send someone to Nova
for 28 days,” she offered as an example.
In this July 2015 photo, Wendy Borner of Beaver Dam
holds a sign near Main Street at the Stop Heroin rally
in West Bend.
According to Stop Heroin Now, 90 percent of individuals
in need of addiction support do not receive it.
County Heroin Task Force will also be on-hand to provide a 35-page
opiate and heroin awareness toolkit, which can also be downloaded
County Heroin Task Force Chair Ronna Corliss said those not affected
by addiction are welcome to attend and get their own toolkits.
“There’s nothing wrong with additional education and resources,” she
the opportunity to speak with an alcohol and other drug abuse and a
mental health therapist from Affiliated Clinical Services. They can
also learn how to work with the Washington County Heroin Task Force.
does want to play a part in making this a healthy place to live,”
The Stop Heroin
Rally, in its fourth year with Stop Heroin Now, starts at 9 a.m. at
the West Bend Pick ‘n Save on 1629 S Main St.
can be found on the rally at
Keeping communities safe from heroin
By Rep. Joel Kleefisch
Aug. 18, 2016
We all grow up
learning, “Don’t Do Drugs.” However, as we become adults and even as
many of us go on to have children, we realize how complex the issue
of drug use really is. Some states have legalized marijuana in some
form, some students take meth-related prescription drugs for very
real learning disabilities, and many adults at some point in their
lives will be on prescription painkillers, with numerous of these
painkillers being opiates.
A common trend
nowadays is for adolescents to go from the medicine cabinet to
street heroin. That is, adolescents are starting off on prescription
drugs, either due to their own injuries or surgeries, or due to
pills that friends have given them, or from taking them from a
family member’s medicine bottle. When those prescription drugs
become either unavailable or too expensive, they either gradually or
all at once make the switch to heroin.
The dangers of
heroin are very real, and are unfortunately becoming a harrowing
epidemic in our communities. Heroin is highly addictive, withdrawal
symptoms are severe, and sadly, heroin overdose deaths are
increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, Attorney General Brad
Schimel has stated that more people die in our state from drug
overdoses than from car crashes.
Last week, I had
the honor of hosting a Coalition to Combat Heroin. The coalition is
made up of members of both state and local government, police
chiefs, the health care industry, and also members of organizations
doing great things in the community. Our goal was to get a
grassroots understanding of the transition from the medical cabinet
to street heroin. As our Coalition to Combat Heroin continues to
meet, it is our objective to come up with solutions and goals in
addressing this disturbing pandemic. We in the Legislature have made
progress on this issue. For the past four years, we have worked to
pass nearly 20 different bills related to this topic. One of those
pieces of legislation is a bill, now law, that encourages
communities to set up drug disposal programs so that unwanted
prescription drugs can be disposed of safely, without falling into
the wrong hands or risking misuse or abuse when they are no longer
We will not rest
until we have turned the tide on this harrowing epidemic. For more
information on this issue, feel free to visit the Wisconsin
Department of Justice’s website at
For those looking for information on treatment and recovery, feel
free to visit the Wisconsin Department of Health’s website at
(State Rep. Joel Kleefisch represents the 38th Assembly District,
covering the Town of Oconomowoc and parts of Dodge and Jefferson
counties. He can be reached by calling toll-free 1-888-534-0038 or
via email at
by Kleefisch holds passionate discussion in Oconomowoc
By Jake Meister- Freeman Staff
Aug. 10, 2016
OCONOMOWOC — A
coalition of experts came to the Oconomowoc Community Center Tuesday
for a more than hour-long meeting that resulted in a passionate
discussion regarding the area’s heroin issues.
State Rep. Joel
Kleefisch, R-Town of Oconomowoc, headed a group comprised of a
medical professional, religious leaders, law enforcement personnel,
lawmakers, educators, and community leaders, who shared their
experiences in dealing with addiction and provided advice on how
communities can minimize the impact of heroin and opioid abuse.
State Rep. Joel Kleefisch asks a question during a
meeting on the heroin problem in Wisconsin held Tuesday
at the Oconomowoc Community Center.
most district attorneys across the state, Waukesha
County DA Susan Opper presides over an office flooded
with criminals who have been charged and in many cases
incarcerated for heroin-related infractions. Opper said
she has seen a rise in the number of individuals who
progress from marijuana and alcohol use to heroin abuse.
Almost all of the heroin addicts, she cautioned, had
abused a different type of drug in the past, and had not
jumped right to heroin.
She added that
addicts who turned to heroin as kids usually did so for two reasons:
A sports injury that left them addicted to prescription pills or a
desire to use opioids for recreational use.
Opper said the
majority of heroin cases that come through her office involve
individuals who travel to Milwaukee County to purchase the drugs.
Oconomowoc Police Chief David Beguhn, center, talks
about his experiences with the rise of heroin in the
city. At left is Oconomowoc Lake Police Chief Don Wiemer
and at right is Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson,
who were also on the panel.
Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson also said that
heroin users within the county typically follow the
modus operandi of driving to Milwaukee County for a deal
because the drug is cheaper there. He said that, when
purchasing heroin in Waukesha County, users are
essentially charged with an extra type of finder’s fee
for bringing the drug from Milwaukee.
the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department has found that supply and
demand for prescription opioids, which often serve as the gateway
drug to heroin, is down. Unfortunately, the lowered demand for
opioids is directly correlated to an increased distribution of
can get it all day,” he explained.
While a decrease
in opioid abuse leading to an increase in heroin use might seem like
a wash, Severson said there is a silver lining in it all because it
mitigates the number of new addicts, which he believes should be a
“It’s kind of
like coming home when the basement is flooding and you go and grab a
mop,” he explained. “You need to turn the water off.”
State Rep. John Nygren discusses the problem of heroin
in Wisconsin during a panel on Tuesday at the Oconomowoc
asked what her thoughts were on Severson’s perspective,
Opper said she was in agreement. She added that
rehabilitation is hard, and it is better to stop the
heroin abuse before it starts.
A number of
other individuals provided their insights into how the heroin
epidemic should be handled in their fields of work.
Westlake of ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital said the medical
community has to take ownership over the prescription drug issue,
and that sector needs to change its prescription drug culture.
School District Superintendent Roger Rindo said that schools need to
provide information to parents and students relating to opioid and
heroin at a very young age, beginning in elementary school. He said
any kid could become addicted to opioids, heroin, or both.
signs of drug addiction
Grand opening of the Wake Up Call site in Hartland
By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff
Aug. 9, 2016
HARTLAND — A
bedroom can represent a person’s personality and be a sanctuary
during the nighttime. However, it can also be a room filled with
secrecy — and the hidden signs of drug addictions.
A Wake Up Call
site is a life-size exhibit of a teen’s bedroom with “red flags”
that can signify drug and alcohol use. Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron
Johnson and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel were on hand for
the grand opening of the Wake Up Call permanent site in Hartland on
190 pairs of shoes representing the 190 people who died
from heroin overdoses in in Waukesha County during the
years 2012-15 were part of a display during the
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
opiate epidemic; he noted that his nephew died from an
overdose recently. “Heroin leads to broken families and
broken lives,” Johnson said.
Schimel said he
used to tell parents to hug their kids when they arrived home. The
purpose was to smell for alcohol and marijuana.
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, left, and Wisconsin Attorney
General Brad Schimel talk about the heroin problem
during a press conference on Monday in Hartland.
Schimel pointed out this is not easy with heroin; the
same signs that a young person is using are actions that
are very similar to those of a normal teenager. Examples
include acting moody, sleeping frequently and keeping
the bedroom door closed. Therefore, these campaigns were
created in hopes of discovering drug abuse earlier and
making the appropriate interventions.
Hartland Fire Department was a Deadly Decisions Exhibit showing
shoes on bleachers with toe tags to represent the 190 lives lost to
heroin and opiate abuse since 2012. Julie Berg spoke about not
wanting to part with her son Tyler’s shoes. Her son died of a drug
overdose in 2012. Berg said the shoes on display show how drug abuse
can happen to people who are rich, poor, young and old.
help and need to be loved,” Berg said.
Julie Berg holds a pair of shoes owned by her son,
Tyler, who died from a heroin overdose.
bedroom and hidden dangers
Medical Examiner’s Office Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Zelda Okia
described going to scenes of lethal drug overdoses. Some of the
victims were young adult males who were just starting to grow
mustaches or females with flawless skin. Okia mentioned the
deceased’s bedrooms containing such items as cute teddy bears and
baby doll clothing.
building behind the Fire Department was a replica of a teenager’s
bedroom. Tyler Lybert led a tour of the room which seemed normal on
the outside, with stuffed animals, books, a cute bedspread and a
desk. But the room actually has 50 red flags or signs to watch out
for. On the floor were pill capsules and cotton from pill bottles.
“Our hope is
there would be earlier recognition if someone is having a problem,”
Tyler Lybert said.
Lybert was the
inspiration behind Your Choice Prevention Education. His parents
Sandi and Rick, sister Ashleigh and Tyler founded the organization.
Tyler Lybert is a recovering addict and has been clean for over
Sadly, many of
his friends were not as lucky as he was. In Lybert’s own experience,
the sooner a parent intervenes, the better chance of survival.
injection can help some overcome opioid addiction
Aug. 5, 2016
Doctor K: My son is
addicted to painkillers. He has been in and out of treatment
programs, but nothing has worked. I recently heard about a monthly
injection that can help people overcome addiction. Can you tell me
more about this?
Reader: The problem
of addiction to opioid prescription painkillers (and illegal
narcotics) is growing worse. I’m sorry it has affected your son. You
are correct: There is a relatively new treatment, called Vivitrol,
which has helped some people.
painkillers include drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin.
With continued use, a person can develop a physical dependence on
these drugs. That means a person experiences withdrawal symptoms if
he stops taking the drug. These drugs can also cause a “high.” Both
of these effects contribute to addiction.
I spoke to my
colleague Wynne Armand about treatment options for opioid addiction.
She is a primary care physician at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts
or “detox” programs, can help a person get through the initial,
intense withdrawal symptoms when coming off a drug. However, detox
alone is often not enough. Many people will relapse and use again
without additional treatment. The additional treatment may include
counseling and long-term medications.
There are three
FDAapproved, long-term medications for treating opioid addiction:
methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. The first two are “agonist”
drugs: They produce some of the same “high” as opioids and can be
addicting. They also can produce dangerous symptoms if a person
takes too much. However, they are less likely to do these things
than the opioids.
naltrexone is an “antagonist.” It binds to opioid receptors but does
not activate them. As a result, it blocks the “high” from other
opioid drugs. Naltrexone is available as a daily pill; its effect in
blocking a high from opioid drugs lasts only a day. Also, obviously,
it only works if it is taken, and people often forget to take a pill
every single day.
Vivitrol is a long-acting form of naltrexone. It is given as a
monthly injection, and its effects last a month. Many doctor’s
offices and clinics have started to offer Vivitrol injections.
taking Vivitrol relapses and starts to use opioid drugs again, they
will not experience the same high. However, there is a danger with
Vivitrol: The person seeking the high may try to overcome the
blocking effects of Vivitrol. This can lead to a severe overdose and
Also, the risk
of overdose or death is high in those who stop Vivitrol and reuse
opioid drugs, because after the opioid drugs have been blocked for a
while, they become more potent when the blocker is removed.
No studies have
compared the three long-term treatments with one another. Vivitrol
may be more appropriate for people who have had no success with the
agonist treatments (methadone and buprenorphine), have a milder
addiction, have difficulty taking a daily medicine and are highly
motivated to quit. Ask your son’s doctor for his or her advice.
Anthony Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical
School. To send questions, go to AskDoctorK.com, or write: Ask
Doctor K, 10 Shattuck St., Second Floor, Boston, MA 02115. For more
www.askdoctork.com.) Dr. Anthony Komaroff’s column runs daily in
disposal program to launch Monday
By Karen Pilarski - Enterprise
August 4, 2016
Delafield Police Chief Erik Kehl has a personal connection to the
new drug disposal program launching on Monday. He remembered an
associate with a drug problem when he first became a police officer;
the associate’s family asked Kehl for help in disposing of the
“If I would have
driven down the street to get rid of it and was caught, that would
have been the end of my career,” Kehl said.
Kehl wasn’t sure
how to handle the request. He ended up having to make a tough
decision and taking a risk, but said it worked out well for him.
Monday, other Delafield Police Department officers won’t have to
take similar risks. They will be able to take possession of illegal
controlled substances and drug paraphernalia from anyone wishing to
voluntarily dispose of those items, anonymously and without fear of
The new program
was an opportunity to help people, their families and friends by
doing the first step: getting rid of the illegal drugs. The second
step is providing a resource guide with local treatment providers to
aid in recovery efforts. The guide was created with input from the
Waukesha County Addiction Resource Council.
Kehl said the
wheels for the program were set in motion after a concerned resident
approached him. The resident was adamant that Delafield develop a
program similar to one in Massachusetts, under which anyone can turn
in drugs and have their drug addiction treatment potentially paid
for. Unfortunately Delafield doesn’t have the money and resources to
pay for drug addiction treatment. But Kehl wanted to do something
since drug abuse is an epidemic in the county and beyond.
provides an outlet for the safe removal of harmful and dangerous
drugs and drug paraphernalia from the community. Items received will
be documented and destroyed. In exchange, a list of local treatment
provider options will be given to anyone interested in seeking
The best time to
turn in illegal drugs is during the daytime when a sworn officer can
collect them. Kehl said no questions will be asked; officers will
not request any identifying information such as names, nor will they
look up license plates.
does not apply to drugs and paraphernalia found during
investigations. Kehl stressed this is not an attempt to legalize any
type of controlled substances within Delafield.
A tool for families
Kehl said the
feedback about developing this program has been favorable,
especially for family and friends of drug addicts.
“I hope this
would give them an outlet to safely get rid of drugs,” he said.
find drugs and drug paraphernalia on the streets and Kehl pondered
if family members of users were trying to discard them.
program family members will have a way of getting rid of drugs so it
doesn’t get into the hands of other people,” Kehl said.
would target opioid abuse
By ALEX BELD
July 22, 2016
coming for the Washington County Treatment Alternatives and
Diversion program, altering the focus and varying how staff will use
it to intervene for cases.
Administrator Eric Diamond recommended the changes during Thursday’s
Human Services Committee meeting, informing and asking for
permission from members to apply for a Department of Justice grant
the funding will be allocated to target those with opioid addiction,
especially heroin, and will be administered on a pretrial basis with
Elevate Inc., which will oversee day-to-day operations. The
initiative’s focus was a treatment initiative for those charged with
operating while intoxicated on a post-conviction basis.
“What you have
before you is a decision item to change course,” Diamond said. “What
we are trying to do is make sure that the $100,000 that we get from
the Department of Justice to support people that got into trouble
because of substance abuse, are routed to treatment instead of jail.
The philosophy is the same, but the design is different.”
the committee report, the county has received funding from the
Justice Department for 10 years to administer the program. However,
the department announced a change to the grant, indicating it will
be offered on a competitive basis and the county must become a
formal OWI court by next July to continue receiving funding.
“While we are
committed to that goal, we are not going to be able to meet that
timeline,” Diamond said. “It was unrealistic for where we are in the
process, both as a team and as a community.”
there are few initiatives in the area to treat opioid addiction and
this path would address that.
opioid-use disorders have a lot of barriers in this community,”
Diamond said. “There isn’t enough medication-based treatment and
there isn’t enough programming specifically tied to them,
particularly those individuals on Medicaid.”
comes at the expense of another that some believe has been
successful for treating recidivism with OWI cases.
“You know that
is the drawback,” Diamond said. “That is the problem. We are not
going to have a specific diversion program for OWI, at least not
funded through TAD.”
Mary Simon, the
director of Elevate, said there are 40 participants in the diversion
program for OWI offenses, and the plan is to serve them but not
enroll additional clients.
“We are looking
into grants and other funding opportunities to continue serving
those clients,” Simon said. “We want to see if we can have both.”
some already exist that cater to OWI offenses, including one
administered by the Sheriff’s Office that Elevate also manages.
The change to
the model is supported by a number of entities, including county
judges, the district attorney’s office and Elevate.
alcohol addiction has a strong biological basis
July 21, 2016
Dear Dr. K: My
brother has struggled with addiction for years. I’ve told my husband
that addiction is a disease, but he claims my brother is weak and
lacks willpower. Is he right?
reader: There is a
lot of stigma and shame associated with addiction. But the truth is,
people with substance-use disorders aren’t simply weak or immoral.
It surely is true that people who try out illegal addictive drugs
for recreational purposes are breaking the law. In my opinion, they
also are doing something profoundly stupid. But they’re often teens,
who tend to do a lot of stupid, impulsive things. Moreover, many
people who become addicted to legal drugs were started on those
drugs by their doctors.
important point is that addiction has a biological basis. Addiction
impairs the brain in many important ways. I spoke to my colleague
Dr. Michael Bierer, an internist at Harvard- affiliated
Massachusetts General Hospital, about this topic. We discussed a
recent review article in The New England Journal of Medicine about
the “brain science” of addiction and its management.
Here are some of
An addicted person’s impaired ability to stop using drugs or alcohol
has to do with deficits in the function of the prefrontal cortex.
This is the part of the brain responsible for self-monitoring,
delaying reward, and integrating messages from the intellect
(reason) and libido (pleasure center).
The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed in adolescents and is
particularly vulnerable during this time. The earlier the brain is
exposed to a drug, the greater the potential for damage. Adolescence
is a time when caution and intervention may prove most valuable, but
it’s also the time when it’s hardest to influence a person’s
Once addiction sets in, which may be very early in experimenting
with an addictive substance, the emotional response when a person is
deprived of the drug is usually extreme negative emotion, a reaction
that is “hard-wired” in the brain.
In a particular setting, the strong association of learned
environmental cues (for instance, seeing the corner where a person’s
dealer can be found, or entering the doctor’s office for
reevaluation of chronic pain) intensifies the craving for the
What’s more, the brain releases a flood of intensely intoxicating
brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, during drug use. This is
called the “reward pathway.” This makes the brain relatively
insensitive to “normal” sources of pleasure, like a conversation
with a good friend or a beautiful sunset. And it makes the brain
focus all of its attention on obtaining the addicting substance.
science is helping to shape treatment strategies. Medications such
as methadone and buprenorphine can stabilize cravings. This gives
the reasoning part of the brain a chance to get back in shape and
kick in. Once cravings are under control, a person may be able to
develop alternative sources of joy and reward in order to avoid the
cues that set off cravings.
Anthony Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical
School. To send questions, go to AskDoctorK.com, or write: Ask
Doctor K, 10 Shattuck St., Second Floor, Boston, MA 02115. For more
www.askdoctork.com.) Dr. Anthony Komaroff’s column runs daily in
Sensenbrenner’s bill aimed at fighting opioid abuse
By ALEX BELD
July 13, 2016
On Friday the
U.S. House of Representatives approved the conference report for a
comprehensive legislative package — the main piece of sponsored by
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.
It aims to
reduce opioid abuse, an increasingly common issue in Washington
H.R. 5046 or the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, is one of
18 bills passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives.
approval of the conference report is a testimony to the seriousness
of legislators to work together, compromise and find real
solutions,” Sensenbrenner said Friday.
Many members of
the law enforcement community say the opioid abuse epidemic is
wide-spread and uses significant resources.
Lt. Nick Booth
of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department said he thinks the
county has a problem with opioids and it uses substantial resources
for the county. According to the Sheriff’s Department website, the
Drug Unit in Washington County began making arrests for the
distribution of heroin in 2007, which have increased each year
since. There has also been an increase in the number of reported
overdoses and deaths in the county.
According to the
Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the increase in use is
likely linked to the increase in abuse of oxycodone and similar
pharmaceuticals in the area.
“I’m sure that
more resources, wherever they come from, will be put to good use,”
Sheriff Dale Schmidt said. The effectiveness of the funds will be
determined by any restrictions, which may or may not be placed on
the funds, he said.
A release from
Sensenbrenner’s office stated the act “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, expand drug courts and
promote residential substance abuse.”
The act will
direct existing funds rather than increase spending authorizations.
It will also provide funding for rehabilitation.
Battling addiction troubles at Paradise
Wisconsins will appear at Paradise Golf to raise funds and
By ALEX BELD
June 29, 2016
2015 and Miss Wisconsin 2016 will be at Paradise Golf on Saturday to
raise awareness and funds for charity combating addiction. Rosalie
Smith, Miss Wisconsin 2015, started COLIN’s Fund to help others
after her brother, Colin Moores, died of an alcohol overdose April
16, 2013. She set up a gofundme page for COLIN’s Fund on Nov. 1 with
a goal of $200,000.
Smith said that
COLIN’s Fund has raised $10,000 and sent four people to rehab so far
and the fund continues to grow. “It’s slowly but surely working,”
She was inspired
by her brother who became sober through the Xtreme Intervention
Project started by Selepri Amachree. When he got sober he decided he
wanted to help others; after he passed, Smith took up the mantle.
Rosalie Smith, Miss Wisconsin 2015, stands next to her
brother Colin Moores, who died from an alcohol overdose
on April 16 2013 at the age of 27 (photo courtesy
Smith speaks publicly on the topic and will be at the
event hosted by Paradise Golf from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Miss
Wisconsin 2016, Courtney Pelot, will attend from 10
a.m.- 2 p.m.
The event will
offer the usual Paradise Golf and Recreation activities of mini
golf, driving range and batting cages, as well as a raffle.
Brewers tickets, four rounds of golf at West Bend Lakes, New Balance
golf shoes, Bridgestone balls and a baseball cap, and a Tour Edge
golf bag are some of the items available as raffle prizes.
Paradise Golf Jim Morrison said the event at 601 E. Paradise Drive
in West Bend came together quickly. “It kind of came to me from a
friend,” he said.
That friend is
Alex Hoffmann, manager of YoCool Frozen Yogurt and an advocate for
fighting addiction. He lost his son, Shay Hoffmann, to a heroin
overdose July 1, 2013, at the age of 21.
YoCool is a
nonprofit that has donated to more than 200 charities, but addiction
is Alex Hoffmann’s main focus.
He speaks in
public about the topic, fights for legislation to help addicts and
hands out information to help educate and inform families. He said
every week families approach him that have been affected by
said that Smith is a “great young lady” and enjoys working with her
on events. If you’re having addiction issues in your family, come to
the event, he said.
The event aims
to raise awareness on addiction issues and disperse information to
families in the area.
Health Manager for the county, Jackie Moglowsky, said, “The one
we’ve seen the most is heroin.” Families often approach the human
services department, she said.
To help heroin
addicts, Moglowsky said they have increasingly looked at medication-
assisted treatment. “It’s where we’ve seen people have the most
success,” she said.
to help someone facing addiction can educate themselves so they can
learn to assist rather than enable. Help can be found at
Overdose homicide charges countywide top 2015 total
in last five months than all of last year
By Matt Masterson -
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
sentenced last week to a year-and-a-half in prison to be served
consecutive to a stayed sentence of three years.
in court Friday and was held on $10,000 cash bond.
prompt Sensenbrenner’s Opioid Abuse Reduction Act
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.
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
“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.
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.”
drug tests challenge businesses
employers say it’s harder to hire ‘clean’ workers
By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic
May 24, 2016
— 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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
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
most applicants failing tests are using marijuana or prescription
“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.
who are looking to hire have challenges related to drug testing and
our lack of transportation,” she said.
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.”
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
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.
contractor in Colorado Springs, Colo., said, “to find a roofer or
painter that can pass a drug test is unheard of,” the Times
contractor said, “As soon as I say ‘criminal background check,’
‘drug test,’ they’re out the door.”
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.
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.
Supervisor Larry Nelson said eight years ago when the heroin
epidemic started there was a general feeling of denial.
‘This is Waukesha County, this is a problem in other parts of the
state’, but it is a problem everywhere,” Nelson said.
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
discuss county’s anti-heroin measures
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.
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.
some of the prevention activities included the “Hidden in Plain
Sight” and “Stairway to Heroin” education series.
includes educating former inmates about overdoses after they are
released and safer needle exchanges and naloxone training.
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.
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.
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.
Sensenbrenner’s anti-opioid abuse bill
May 13, 2016
— 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
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
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
more than 800 overdose deaths occurred in 2015 — double the number
of deaths from overdose in 2004.
combats heroin epidemic
Timothy Westlake taking his ideas to halls of power
Billingham - Enterprise Staff
April 28, 2016
OCONOMOWOC — Emergency room
doctors know intimately the tragic consequences of opioid addiction
state crime lab cases involving heroin increased 419 percent from
2008 to 2014, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health
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.
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.
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.
opioid addiction and overdoses “the public health crisis of our
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.
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.
caregivers must now consider patient survey results and cater to
them to ensure they meet Medicare reimbursement requirements.
said, causes an undue focus on a patient’s pain experience and often
increases the subjective nature of it, leading to overprescribing of
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.
Westlake said, “It’s like having a tiny government regulator on your
shoulder each time you make a decision.”
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.”
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.
this leads to doctors prescribing too many pills, rather than too
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
it is important to anticipate unintended consequences and build
sound policy at the state and federal levels before it is made law.
is law, it is very difficult to change,” he said.
Force offers a drug prevention guide for families
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.
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
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
Proposal presented to Ozaukee Heroin Task Force
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
possible right now,” said Ross, who gave an example of an addict who
was able to obtain about
doses a month through doctor shopping. “We are able to identify up
to four-plus doctors, which indicates that there is a prescription
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.
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.
horrors: Johnson, Baldwin hold hearing at WCTC about opioid epidemic
Pilarski - Freeman Staff
April 16, 2016
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
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.
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.
problem is another factor — heroin is quite affordable.
one hit of heroin costs anywhere from $10 to $12 in Milwaukee,” said
The easy access
to and low cost of the drug have led to terrible consequences, he
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
The sad fact is
in 2014, 28,000 people died from prescription or illegal opioid use,
“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’
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
option was to come home and try another form of treatment. Though
family counseling, he discovered he did want to live.
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.
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
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.
holds up a photo of her son, Archie, who died of an overdose
in 2014 during a public hearing on Friday at Waukesha County
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
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
Fidlin - Special to the Enterprise
April 14, 2016
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’
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
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.
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
Your Choice organization, Kettle Moraine Parent Resource Network,
Oconomowoc Parent Education Network, Waukesha County Drug Free
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
Baldwin to hold hearing at WCTC on heroin epidemic
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.
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.
James F. Bohn, director of Wisconsin HIDTA, Office of National Drug
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
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.
Heroin series continues
Event to feature replica of teenager’s bedroom
- Enterprise Staff
March 31, 2016
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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
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
Schimel discusses making treatment more affordable and attainable
- 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.
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.
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
Schimel doesn’t think students will overdose while at school, he
said there are people who live on campus or around the schools who
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
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
“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
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.
to look into whether a prescription for Narcan is necessary. Narcan
is not harmful to individuals and no one can get high from it.
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
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.
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
Breaking the chain
to remind people that 4 out of 5 heroin users started out with a
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.
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
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
Narcan is easy to use and works fast within minutes. He added every
“We can’t save
everyone, but at least this gives the person a chance,” he said.
company sets up heroin overdose antidote rebates
March 24, 2016
MADISON — A
pharmaceutical company has agreed to provide rebates to public
entities in Wisconsin that purchase the heroin overdose antidote
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.
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.
anti-heroin bills in Oconomowoc
are latest measures in opioid addiction fight
By Ryan Billingham -
March 18, 2016
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
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
“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.
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.
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
both bills and attended the tour stops. He spoke about his personal
experience and encouraged increased awareness of the problem.
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
resident Lauri Badura lost her son, Archie, to an overdose in May
2014. She said the new legislation is “a huge step.”
become an outspoken champion of the anti-heroin/opioid movement. She
said it is important to combat the stigma of addiction.
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.”
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.”
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.
Nephew died from heroin overdose
Senator calls for public education about the dangers of opiates
By Karen Pilarski -
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
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
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.
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.
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.
too late’ to battle addiction
Speakers at Starting Point breakfast bring different backgrounds to
By Melanie Boyung - News
March 7, 2016
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
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
“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 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.
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.
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
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
“I'm trying to
give my kids the gift of being able to say, ‘No, my dad is crazy’”
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.
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
against prescription drug abuse
Schimel describes Dose of Reality campaign at school symposium event
By Dave Fidlin - Special
to The Freeman
Feb. 15, 2016
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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
“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
Looking at the numbers behind heroin use in 2015
By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily
Dec. 31, 2015
As 2015 turns
into a new year, problems persist with the dangers of heroin use in
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.
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.
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.
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
“No one ever
wakes up one morning and decides to become a heroin addict,” Dehring
said. “It usually starts with something else and escalates.”
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."
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.
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
To download the
guide, go to
Against Heroin returns
promoting sober musicians to perform at Cultural Center Sunday
By Colleen Jurkiewicz -
News Graphic Correspondent
Dec. 15, 2015
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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
“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
is hoping to expand upon Fond du Lac’s Freedom House model, which
has maintained a 94 percent occupancy rate since its inception in
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.
kind of just a Band-Aid on the problem. One house is not going to do
it,” Halula said at the breakfast.
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.”
hits close to home
8th-grader recently tests positive
By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily
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
“We were all
shocked,” Ronna Corliss, county prevention coordinator for Elevate
said. “I just wanted to cry. That is just so sad.”
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
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.
eighth-grader was referred to a program introduced in March called
Youth Intervention, and taking the test for alcohol and/or drugs was
“Kids tend to
not necessarily be honest about using alcohol or drugs,” Corliss
said of why the test is mandatory for program participation.
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.
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
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.
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
John Ehlke/Daily News
that people start to realize the connection between abusing
prescription medications and heroin,” Corliss said.
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.”
addictions start with abusing pain medications,” Corliss said.
The last several
pages detail treatment options and resources available in Washington
County, Corliss said.
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.”
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
‘Playgrounds to Pills’ stresses importance of parents in prevention
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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
Dose of Reality
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.
may be one of the most important things I do as attorney general
because if we do this right we save lives,” Schimel said.
in the lobby of the Oconomowoc Arts Center at the resource
fair that was held before the presentation.
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
— An anti-overdose drug that reverses the effect of narcotics will
soon be available in Ozaukee County without a prescription.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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
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.
director of health services for Ozaukee County, cited the importance
of naloxone in limiting overdose deaths in the community.
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.
news accounts, Walgreens has made the drug available at its stores
Melanie Boyung can be reached at
Heroin events complimented by county-wide campaign
By Eric Oliver - Enterprise
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.
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.
habits are formed at a young age, it is never too early to lay the
foundation for a drug-free lifestyle,” OPEN Coordinator Katie
the program will feature:
Techniques to teach resiliency and refusal skills at an early age,
Childhood brain development and its impact on decision-making
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
‘Dose of Reality’
Attorney General Brad Schimel announced a new public information and
awareness campaign last week aimed at preventing abuse of
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
“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.”
launch comes a month ahead of the Department of Justice’s Drug Take
Back Day on Oct. 17.
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.
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.”
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.”
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
there for opiate crisis
Diversion program, sober housing have worked
By Laurie Arendt - News
Sept. 24, 2015
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
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.
something that is very real that affects families,” she said.
that the Wisconsin Legislature has approved $1.5 million in funding
for TAD (Treatment Alternatives and Diversion) programming to combat
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.”
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
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.”
stressed that it was possible to do something to combat the heroin
‘What can I do?’” he said. “Look at me. I’m just some junkie up here
What can you do
as a parent?
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.”
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.”
addresses drug use in community
Resource Fair to be held at 5:30 p.m.
By Alex Zank - Daily News
Sept. 22, 2015
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
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
“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
Bensen used a theoretical example of someone who has four counts of
“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
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
power in fight against heroin
sets next ‘Stairway’ event for Sept. 29
By Eric Oliver - Enterprise
Sept. 10, 2015
Oconomowoc Area School District Superintendent Roger Rindo said in
January he was sick and tired of burying kids because of drug abuse.
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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.
school in the country has drug issues,” he said. “It’s part of the
work that we do.”
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.
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.
mirrored Moylan’s comments, saying the success of the Stairway
program is contingent on a community coming together.
Westerman said the goal of the Stairway series is to reduce
substance use among adolescents by providing education and spreading
program exemplifies what OPEN is about, Westerman said, the power of
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
The next steps
Westerman both said the problem will never end.
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.”
warrant to search car possibly involved in drug overdose death
Investigators have searched a car in the Town of Ottawa which they
believe could provide evidence linking a male subject to an overdose
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
boyfriend is not yet facing any charges related to this incident,
according to court records.
defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in court
on Oct. 12.
Masterson, Enterprise Staff
It’s not going away
Heroin, opiate deaths continue in county
Enterprise Editorial Board
Sept. 10, 2015
It’s not going
heroin deaths are mounting. The dead are piling up outside our
doors. It will not go away without continued effort in our
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.”
will focus on parents’ roles in setting a foundation for a drugfree
lifestyle for their children.
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
It’s a horrible
image, a young woman ravaged by addiction, her future erased.
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
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.
conversation really does begin at home.
lawmaker readies quartet of anti-heroin measures
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
describes drug use in the workplace
Schimel, Opper, others urge employers to be vigilant, proactive
By Katherine Michalets -
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
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
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
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
concentration and lack of focus
productivity or erratic work patterns
absenteeism or on the job “presenteeism”
disappearances from the job site
mistakes or errors in judgment
for safety for self and others; on the job and off the job accidents
lunch periods and early departures
-Frequent financial problems
of friends and colleagues
others for own problems and shortcomings
about problems at home
in personal appearance or personal hygiene
excuses and time off for vaguely defined illnesses or family
-Source: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug
deaths appear to be declining in county
Seven so far
By Matt Masterson - Freeman
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
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
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
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,”
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
Contributing: The Associated Press
County loan to
help jump start Sober Housing
$150,000, 0 percent loan to be given to
By Denise Seyfer - News
June 9, 2015
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
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
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,
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