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