Helping heroin addicts test jails
Inmates having withdrawal symptoms need to be monitored
By AMANDA VOSS - Daily News
Feb. 1, 2015
Washington County Sheriff Dale
Schmidt gives an update during the Common Sense
Citizens of Washington County on Wednesday at the
Moose Lodge chapter 1398 in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
The number of heroin-addicted inmates — some of whom are
monitored every 30 minutes for withdrawal symptoms — has
increased in the Washington County Jail.
Lt. Scott Lehman of the Washington County Sheriff’s
Department said they’ve seen steady growth in that area.
“I’ve worked here for 15 years,” Lehman said. “When I
started I got a few who said they’ve used it and now it’s a
Members of the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department are
seeing the same.
Capt. Jeffrey Sauer, jail administrator and court services
captain at the Ozaukee County Jail, said there’s been a
dramatic increase in the number of inmates addicted to
heroin in their jail.
The inside of a holding cell is
seen Friday at the Ozaukee Sheriff’s Department in
John Ehlke/Daily News
He said on a Monday,
there used to be one or two inmates in the Ozaukee County
Jail addicted to heroin; now six out of eight of its
observation cells are used to treat inmates addicted to
heroin arrested over the weekend.
Lt. Martin Schulteis of the Washington County Sheriff’s
Department said heroin is a Schedule I drug as defined by
Wisconsin statues. When someone is arrested for the
possession of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug they are not
arrested on the specific drug for possession, but the class
In 2014, there were 258 physical bookings into the
Washington County Jail for possession of a Schedule I or II
narcotic drug. There were 36 more bookings for the delivery
Lehman said inmates come in the jail through the booking
He said officers make an assessment to determine whether or
not the person arrested is fit for jail. Information from
the arresting officer is examined, a questionnaire is filled
out about medical and mental health, and inmates are asked
if they take any drugs.
“A lot of other people we see they’ve been through our
system,” Lehman said. “We look at past history.”
If an officer finds out the inmate has used heroin, Lehman
said certain procedures are put in place.
“Our first concern is their health,” Lehman said. “If
they’ve used within 24 hours, they are put on a watch. An
officer comes around every 30 minutes and logs their
If the inmate hasn’t used within 24 hours, but is showing
signs of withdrawal, they are put on a watch, Lehman said.
Steve Dahlen, house manager at Exodus
House in Kewaskum, said he’s been told the symptoms include
shakes, hot and cold sweats, body aches, vomiting and
“Basically, the way it’s been described
to me is you feel like you are going to die and you almost
wish you were dead,” Dahlen said.
Dahlen, a recovering alcoholic, said the
last time he was incarcerated in 2005 heroin wasn’t as
prominent as it is now.
“Every once in a while you got a guy in
your pod withdrawing from heroin,” Dahlen said. “They pretty
much sit in their cell. They don’t do anything. They’re just
feeling miserable. Maybe after four or five days they start
to eat a little something. Maybe a week to two weeks they
start to feel a little better.”
Cheryl Gnodtke, lead nurse at the
Ozaukee County Jail, said inmates experiencing heroin
withdrawal are put in an observation cell. Their blood
pressure, heart rate, physical symptoms, changes in
appetite, auditory or visual hallucinations are monitored.
She said inmates experiencing withdrawal
symptoms are usually monitored 48-72 hours and then the
inmate is transferred to the general population where they
In the Washington County Jail, a nurse
completes a medical assessment and some inmates are
prescribed medication for withdrawals.
Since Lehman has been at the Washington
County Sheriff’s Department he said they’ve taken more of a
medical approach when monitoring inmates experiencing heroin
“With the sheer numbers we are seeing
we’re a lot more defined on what we do,” Lehman said adding
there are more tools at their disposal like checking oxygen
“Our officers do a fantastic job,”
Lehman said, adding their booking officers attend drug abuse
Glenn Zipperer, a licensed clinical
social worker and certified substance abuse counselor at the
Ozaukee County Jail, said there is more of an emphasis on
medical treatment whereas before it was a cold-turkey
There are also treatment programs in the
Washington and Ozaukee jails to help inmates addicted to
heroin, other drugs and alcohol.
“We have volunteers who run a Narcotics
Anonymous group with the jail, which has been well attended,
but unfortunately we are not equipped to be a rehabilitation
center,” Lehman said. “We work with human services to help
provide inmates with information on other resources
available in the community and we do everything we can to
help stabilize them while they are incarcerated.”
Zipperer said in the holding area at the
Ozaukee County Jail inmates are assessed and learn about the
treatment programs and services available like individual
and group counseling.
Ozaukee County Jail might offer a new
treatment program specifically for inmates addicted to
heroin, Sauer said.
“It’s still in the beginning stages of
that,” Sauer said, adding they are teaming up with the human
services department, but the program is a work in progress
and is not sure when it will be implemented.
Dahlen runs an Alcoholics Anonymous
meeting as a volunteer in the Washington County Jail and
said some inmates, who are addicted to alcohol and heroin,
have been in AA meetings. He said inmates learn coping
skills, life skills and how to eliminate their triggers.
“Anything visual, audio or feeling a
sensation of the drug or the drink,” Dahlen said. “A lot of
times for the addicts a lot of them get a little rush from
the pin prick of the needle and the drug isn’t even in them
yet. When they see documentaries like ‘Intervention’ that
could be a trigger.”
He said inmates also learn how to deal
with life on life’s terms, come to terms with what their
addiction is, who they’ve hurt and how it affects everyone.
Dahlen said when some inmates are
released from jail they go back to using right away.
“Something to celebrate for getting out
of jail or that’s their comfort zone,” Dahlen said.
Dahlen has also seen heroin use grow.
“Say 12 to 13 years ago, I went through
Exodus House as a resident the first time it was primarily
alcohol,” Dahlen said. “There might be one or two cocaine
addicts and there really was no heroin. I went through the
Exodus House again in 2008 and as a resident I noticed a
couple of guys out of 20 that had pill addictions and
He said he’s been working at Exodus
House for six and a half years and the number of residents
addicted to heroin has doubled every year.
Sauer said heroin has been an issue that
has increased in the last five years in Ozaukee County.
“We’re struggling to address it,” Sauer
said. “It’s been a rapidly increasing problem.”
He said if the program to help inmates
addicted to heroin is set up in the Ozaukee County Jail, it
could be a solution.
When asked if the increase in inmates
who come to the Washington County Jail addicted to heroin
has cost the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Lehman
said it would be difficult to determine.
addiction costs the entire community on multiple levels, but
putting a dollar amount on what it costs the Sheriff’s
Department would be difficult, if not impossible to do,”
Drug Treatment Court program helps addicts,
suffers from low graduation rate
By Matt Masterson -
Jan. 29, 2015
— Kyle Steinbrecher knows where his life could have gone if
he hadn’t entered Waukesha County’s Drug Treatment Court
“I would be dead or in prison,” he said, “but probably
Steinbrecher, 26, graduated from the program in November
after more than a year of treatment and said he is grateful
for the opportunity he was offered to get help and break his
The program, which began in 2012, offers addicts who are
facing criminal charges the chance to avoid jail time with
regular court appearances and case management appointments,
including office and home visits as well as random alcohol
and drug testing.
But through two full years, the graduation rate for DTC
stands at just 35 percent — less than half the rate for the
county’s Alcohol Treatment Court, which deals with thirdand
fourth-time operating while intoxicated offenders —
according to Sara Carpenter, the multicounty court services
administrator for Wisconsin Community Services.
“What we hear from participants,” she said, “is that it is a
whole different animal than Alcohol Treatment Court.
Addiction to this drug is a whole different ball game and
these clients have so many struggles and it isn’t just
addiction — it’s family, it is mental health, it’s
employment, it’s education.”
A dangerous gateway
Steinbrecher, who spoke before the county’s Criminal Justice
Collaborating Committee during its meeting Wednesday, said
he began using marijuana when he was 17. Quickly, though,
that took a turn down a more dangerous path.
addiction progressed through marijuana to Ecstasy, cocaine,
acid, mushrooms, heroin and opiates,” he said. “When I got
to opiates it was like I found my calling for drugs.”
He said a dealer started off giving him
the drugs for free, but when that ran out he was forced to
start buying them. Once he lost his job, he turned to
stealing, lying and manipulating his way into finding his
next fix. He pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and
delivering narcotics on separate occasions before an arrest
for disorderly conduct had him facing a decade in prison.
“That was kind of like my wake-up call,”
he said. “Everybody has their different rock bottom or a
wake-up call — for me it was facing 10 years in prison and
realizing is prison really going to help me or is it just
going to give me different connections?”
Instead, his attorney got him enrolled
in the Drug Treatment Court program, sparing him from
further jail time.
Not many grads
Carpenter said participants in Drug
Treatment Court also have far more needs than their
counterparts in ATC, which demands more from the program’s
two caseworkers — who, she said, barely have time to eat
Their current caseload includes 46
In a report to the CJCC, Carpenter said
in 2014 DTC accepted 112 participants and finished the year
with 59 more on its wait list. Of those accepted, seven
graduated, bringing the program’s total number of graduates
up to 17 in its history.
Those numbers compare rather unfavorably
with Alcohol Treatment Court, where last year alone there
were 31 graduates from the third-offense OWI population and
17 more from the fourtime offenders.
In addition, graduates from DTC last
year were with the program for an average of 556 days — well
above the 425day average for third-time OWI offenders.
CJCC Coordinator Rebecca Luczaj said the
county is aware of these disparities and is taking steps to
try and boost DTC graduation, including reaching out to
American University, a nationwide technical assistance
provider for the program.
“I told them our dilemma,” Luczaj said,
“that we have a low graduation rate and wanted them to look
at that and see what we can do. So they are actually going
to send us some technical assistance consultants who are
going to meet with our team and work with us just analyzing
how our program operates now and maybe make some suggestions
of some things we can do to maybe increase that number.”
‘I have my old son back.’
Steinbrecher entered Drug Treatment
Court on Oct. 31, 2013. He said the early stages of the
program were overwhelming because so much is required. But
within a couple months, he was in a routine and became more
comfortable with his caseworkers.
“I was closed in the beginning,” he
said. “But I realized that unless you talk about something,
you are not going to fix it.
“If I could fix my own problem... I
wouldn’t need any of you. If I could get off drugs on my own
it would be like, whatever, but that is not the case.”
He said he relied on the color call
system, a daily routine where participants are called for
random drug tests based on different colors chosen each day,
to help him stay focused on recovery rather than seeking out
drugs — something he said never really crossed his mind
Steinbrecher graduated from Drug
Treatment Court on Nov. 18, 2014, 383 days after he entered
it. He said he is back working and still receives help from
staff as well as monthly injections of Vivitrol — an opioid
receptor antagonist used once monthly to combat opioid
He received an ovation from the full
committee after sharing his story and was invited by CJCC
Chair Judge Jennifer Dorow to return to the program in the
future as a visitor.
“I appreciate the opportunity I got,” he
said. “My mom is happy — she is like ‘I have my old son
Rindo: ‘I’m sick and tired of burying kids’
Board committee approves random drug test policy
By Eric Oliver - Enterprise
Jan. 29, 2015
OCONOMOWOC — A
School Board committee on Tuesday approved a policy that
could see 75 percent to 80 percent of Oconomowoc students in
grades seven through 12 randomly drug tested starting next
The Committee on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
approved the proposal, which, if the School Board approves
it at its Feb. 17 meeting, would apply to all students
engaged in sports and extracurricular activities and those
signing up to park in the high school parking lot.
Random drug tests
Director of Student Services and Special Education Lisa
Dawes presented the proposed random drug test policies to
the committee. Under the plan, the district would cover the
cost of a standard split sample test, where two specimens
are separately screened for drugs. If a parent or student
wishes to contest a positive finding, a third test of the
original sample can be done at their expense.
If the policy is approved by the board, the next steps will
be to look for a vendor to conduct the testing, make updates
to the student handbooks, develop a conset form and have
conversations at freshman athletic meetings about the new
School Board members John Suttner and Jessica Karnowski
showed interest over an option for private testing that
could be conducted at a pre-approved offsite facility within
Dawes said that should not be considered because of the
possibility of altering the sample.
Oconomowoc Area School District Superintendent Roger Rindo
said standardizing is the best way to ensure equal treatment
to all students. Dawes and Rindo said that the test as well
as the inclusion of all the current anti-drug practices will
be another tool for students to say no.
“As superintendent we’re responsible for
5,200 kids and if this is a policy that impacts one life I
can’t say that it is something I can’t fully support,” Rindo
said. “Right now we can’t say that we are doing everything
and I’m sick and tired of burying kids. At least if we have
this in place along with all the other things we are doing I
can sleep at night saying we are doing everything we can.”
Karnowski had another concern over the
effectiveness of the new drug policy as a deterrent since
the current policy is not acting as such. Rindo said that
the current policy is not sufficient enough because it can
only punish students for drug use on the property or by
Dawes said a reason it’s ineffective is
because it relies heavily on students to report illegal
substance use, which does not happen.
problem not going away; a sustained fight needed
Jan. 29, 2015
problem in Waukesha County, like hundreds of other
communities in the U.S., is not going away anytime soon —
particularly if we take our eyes off the ultimate goal:
saving lives and getting addicts in treatment.
Oconomowoc Area School District Superintendent Roger Rindo
said at a meeting of the Committee on Curriculum,
Instruction and Assessment he didn’t want to sound
melodramatic, but that he was “sick of burying kids.”
His message wasn’t melodramatic, it was the truth and it
needs to be amplified many times over until everyone hears
it loud and clear: We must stop the senseless deaths of our
Rindo and the school district’s aggressive drug testing
policy is in the right; unprecedented risks require
unprecedented measures, particularly when safeguarding
against a foe as insidious as opiates.
It might be difficult for parents to imagine their middle
schoolers, or even elementary schoolers, experimenting with
or using drugs. However, time and time again, we see court
documents that outline the use and abuse of opiates by teens
and even pre-teens.
It is easy to rally a community beset by tragedy, be that
cancer or a terrible accident or an overdose. However,
what’s really needed is sustained awareness about the
problem by every person in the community.
Opiate addiction has no socioeconomic or racial boundaries.
Blame is irrelevant and wrongheaded. Solutions are the only
thing that matter.
In that spirit, the next Stairway to Heroin event will take
place on Tuesday, Feb. 17, starting with a resource fair at
5:45 p.m. and a program from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at
Westbrook Church, 1100 Highway 83 in Hartland.
The event is the third in the Stairway to Heroin series and
is titled “A Bridge to Action, Communities Coming Together.”
We strongly recommend everyone attend. The event is free and
more information can be found at
HEROIN TASK FORCE
Avoiding the ‘tangle’of the courts
Program offers new options for addicts who commit crimes
By Denise Seyfer - News
Jan. 22, 2015
PORT WASHINGTON — A newly implemented program is giving new
options for selected drug offenders with a hope that it will
curb the drug problem countywide and keep the offenders out
of the criminal justice system.
Thanks to a $132,900 grant from the Wisconsin Department of
Justice, the Ozaukee County District Attorney’s Office and
local judges are working with Starting Point of Ozaukee to
implement a treatment alternatives and diversion program, or
TAD, for offenders who meet the criteria. The county is
making a $37,780 match. The goal of the program is to change
the behavior of those who may have committed crimes due to
their drug or alcohol addiction.
“The program is actively (helping individuals,)” said Kerry
Young, TAD program coordinator and case manager for Ozaukee
County. “What this program offers to individuals who have
alcohol or drug charges is an opportunity to avoid getting
tangled in the criminal justice system.”
Ozaukee County currently has eight active TAD cases, with
three cases pending and five cases that were pinpointed for
diversion or deferred prosecution and have not responded to
the opportunity to enter the program, Young said.
Recently released statistics from the Ozaukee County
Sheriff’s Office drug unit show seizures of prescription
drugs, heroin, cocaine and marijuana support the necessity
to provide substance abuse treatment, interventions and
“The numbers are solely based on the drug unit’s activity,”
said Ozaukee Sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Galbraith, head of the
drug unit. “As far as cocaine and marijuana being higher is
very much likely affected by who the informant(s) was and
who they had access to during that year and not by the
availability or price of the drug. Other drug levels that
were down were likely caused by a lack of informants rather
than any change in the levels of availability of the drug …
(it’s) not a reflection of the problem.”
Four deputies make up the drug unit. The seizure figures do
not include cases and arrests that other officers make
throughout the sheriff’s office and other countywide law
enforcement officers, Galbraith said. TAD focuses on
reducing recidivism and incarceration due to substance abuse
by providing treatment and support to break the addiction
cycle in individuals who meet criteria set by the courts and
the DA’s office. Though many different TAD models exist,
Ozaukee County uses a diversion and district attorney model,
in which the DA makes referrals which are sent to a case
manager for evaluation. The model uses strict guidelines,
such as a zero tolerance for alcohol, drugs and arrests,
holding participants accountable.
“My office selects participants that ordinarily would be
appropriate for (removal) in the criminal justice system,”
said Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol. “People
with no criminal contacts, no hint of violence in the
contact that caused them to be arrested and people that are
truly suspected of having an established or potentially
burgeoning AODA problem. Most of these people are what we
sometimes would call a ‘self-corrector.’ Criminal justice
alone might have been enough to scare a person into better
behavior. However, on probation, there would be little
therapy or oversight.”
Gerol said that evaluation typically begins with a request
for charges from a law enforcement agency. When the DA
believes the defendant may be appropriate for diversion, a
draft of a criminal complaint is written. The complaint is
not filed; however, it is sent to the defendant with a
letter suggesting that they consult with an attorney and
perhaps consider the program. Within 10 days, the person
makes an appointment with Starting Point to see if they
believe the person has an alcohol or drug addiction and
could benefit from the program.
“We are one of over 30 counties that
received funding for TAD,” said Starting Point Director Shea
Halula. “One of the biggest issues with TAD is that many
people do not realize what it is and how cost effective it
Halula added that TAD has a three-year
recidivism rate of 17 percent and every $1 invested in TAD
The evidence-based TAD approach and case
management has been found to “successfully divert nonviolent
offenders with substance abuse treatment needs from further
criminal justice system involvement,” according to the
University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Through the creation of TAD, the
criminal justice system is able to provide increased
opportunities for treatment of substance abusing offenders,
specifically reducing the risk of social, economic and
health problems. In addition to increased criminal justice
costs, substance abuse contributes to chronic disease,
decreased productivity, social and family disruption, lack
of educational attainment and increased health care costs,
the university’s TAD 2007-2010 Evaluation Report’s executive
University studies show TAD projects
successfully divert nonviolent offenders with alcohol or
other drug problems from jail and prison incarceration. A
total of 135,118 incarceration days were averted by TAD
projects during the first four years of TAD, or 86,530 jail
days and 45,588 prison days.
Further, TAD participants are less
likely to be convicted of a new offense after program
discharge than those who do not participate. More than
three-quarters, or 76 percent, of TAD participants are not
convicted of a new crime after their program participation.
TAD conviction rates of 24 percent for
participants is still lower than that of 38.2 percent for
offenders released from prison and convicted of a new crime
within three years, according to Wisconsin Department of
“TAD gives many sectors, such as county
board members, the county administrator, judges, the DA, the
sheriff’s office, human services and health departments, as
well as other key stakeholders the opportunity to come
together as a team and use resources and tools to best serve
the participants,” Halula said.
Denise Seyfer can be reached at
Area police clock big heroin increases from 2013 to 2014
Berlin’s heroin arrests almost doubled
By Sarah Pryor -
Jan. 21, 2015
WAUKESHA — Heroin has
been described as an epidemic sweeping southeastern
Wisconsin and Attorney General Brad Schimel has declared it
public enemy number 1, but local police jurisdictions are
still reporting massive increases in heroin-related arrests
during the past two years.
In New Berlin, heroin arrests almost doubled from 2013 to
2014, with police arresting 10 people for heroin possession
and 12 people for heroin paraphernalia in 2013. 18 people
were arrested for heroin possession and 21 for heroin
paraphernalia in 2014.
“We’re definitely not immune to it in New Berlin,” New
Berlin Police Capt. Mike Glider said. “Everyone’s priority
in Waukesha County is to increase awareness of heroin. It’s
not just an inner city problem — the suburbs too. All
jurisdictions have seen an increase. It’s a trend we are
trying to reverse.”
Capt. Jay Iding of the Pewaukee Police Department said
heroin and marijuana numbers ticked up slightly in 2014 over
“Waukesha County as a whole, southeastern Wisconsin as a
whole, it is just that again we are dealing with this heroin
issue,” Iding said. “It is huge.”
New Berlin police also saw a slight
spike in marijuana arrests, from 103 in 2013 to 113 in 2014.
Glider said that might be attributable to two new K-9 units
being used on traffic stops last year.
“They can legally do a sniff around the
vehicle as long as it doesn’t prolong the time of a traffic
stop. If they hit, we can search,” Glider said. “They can
smell drugs coming out of doors or windows, and they’ll go
crazy if they think there are drugs inside the car. It also
works for opiates.”
Waukesha police arrested 263 people for
possession of marijuana in 2013, versus 213 in 2014. In
Waukesha, heroin possession arrests increased from 30 in
2013 to 39 last year. Arrests for selling heroin dropped
from 38 to 13, and arrests for selling cocaine dropped from
41 to 22.
Waukesha Police Lt. Tom Wagner said the
drops might be attributable to a reallocation of resources.
“When you have heroin-related death
investigations, which I believe we had 12 of last year, they
take up a lot of resources,” Wagner said. “It might take a
two-month investigation into one incident that results in
Wagner said although heroin use and
distribution is a growing trend and thus a growing concern,
marijuana and other drugs are still a priority for his
department. He also said many drug offenders are caught when
they’re doing something else illegal.
“It’s like if you get in a fight and
you’ve got a bag of weed in your pocket,” Wagner said.
making mark in county
discovered in area last year
By Matt Masterson -
Jan. 21, 2015
Methamphetamine use is not nearly on the crisis level of
heroin and other opioids in Waukesha County, but the drug
has been found in the area and at least one lab was
discovered in the county in 2014 for the first time in
Detective John Kopatich of the Metro Drug Unit gave a
presentation to the county’s Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse
Advisory Committee Tuesday about the production and history
of methamphetamine in Waukesha.
He said meth — a white, odorless powder — is extremely
addictive and produces the same sort of euphoric state as
heroin by boosting dopamine levels in users’ brains.
Last year, the Metro Drug Unit purchased just 86.52 grams of
methamphetamine through undercover agents or informants.
Between 2008 and 2012, the price of meth dropped by 70
percent, but its purity increased by 130 percent, according
The drug is much more common in areas including the southern
United States, the Dakotas and Canada, according to
Kopatich. Most of the country’s meth comes from Mexico, but
it can be made virtually anywhere using inexpensive,
over-the-counter ingredients cooked together in small
“shake-and-bake” or one-pot labs.
“It is very small, easily concealable,” he said. “Over 90
percent of the labs that are getting taken out by law
enforcement across the country are these shake-and-bake
These labs are built using two-liter bottles and allow users
to make one or two grams per cook.
In May a Town of Lisbon man, Dale Saugstad, was charged with
manufacturing meth in one such lab. He told investigators he
learned to do the “shake and bake” method while living down
south, and as far as he knew he was the only person in the
area making meth, according to the criminal complaint
against him. He was eventually found guilty and received a
10-year prison sentence last September.
While these small labs are often easy to hide, they are also
“We talked to one of the DEA agents who came and cleaned up
our lab in Lisbon,” Kopatich said, “(and he said) that 50
percent of the time these will result in explosion.”
Last year five people in Pewaukee were also indicted after
receiving shipments of meth from California.
Recovering addict: ‘I thought I was in
During the meeting, Susie Austin — a member of the AODA
Advisory Committee and herself a recovering methamphetamine
user — recounted the horrors she experienced when the drug
overtook her life two decades ago in Arizona.
“I thought I was in control,” she said. “I had seizures from
overdosing. I had been beaten, I had been raped, I had just
about everything you can have happen ... but I still thought
I was in control.”
Austin, now a Waukesha resident, has been with the committee
for nearly 15 years and works with Celebrate Recovery, a
local recovery program based on Christianity.
Austin said she did not believe she had a problem while she
was using, but quickly got caught up in the drugs. She
received a round of applause from the committee after saying
she had gotten out of that situation 17 years ago.
“You don’t realize what is happening to you,” she said. “I
was 30 years old, I wasn’t a big drug user, then all of a
sudden I got caught up in using and dealing.”
Heroin now part of D.A.R.E. curriculum
Studies have cited little impact on drug, alcohol use
By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily News
Jan. 17, 2015
Jenna Rondorf didn’t
know anything about heroin, but by the time the Holy Angels
Catholic School fifth-grader graduated Thursday afternoon
from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program,
she had learned enough to make her want to avoid it.
“I think one of the most important things I learned is that
taking drugs is a big problem and that we need to make good
decisions not to do that,” Rondorf said. “I never heard
about heroin before but I did learn that even if you do it
once, you can get addicted, and that’s bad.”
Rondorf and nearly 40 other fifth-grade students at Holy
Angels joined millions of other children around the world
who have participated in the D.A.R.E. program that is taught
by law enforcement officers.
“We met once a week for an hour for 14 weeks,” Washington
County Sheriff’s Department Detective Hope Demler said just
before the graduation ceremony began Thursday at Holy
Angels. “In the program, we talk about a variety of drugs,
like marijuana and inhalants,” Demler said. “For the first
time, we’ve added a section about heroin, which is a growing
The D.A.R.E. program focuses on much
more than just drugs, Demler noted.
Washington County Sheriff Dale
Schmidt, left, signs the t-shirt of Lola Chemer,
right, a fifth-grader at Holy Angels Catholic School
after she and nearly 40 other students at the school
graduated from the Drub Abuse Resistance Education
(D.A.R.E.) program. Local dignitaries and parents
attended a graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon
for the students at Holy Angels.
Linda McAlpine/Daily News
One of the program’s
goals is to give students the tools they need to make good
decisions, Demler said.
“We talk about other issues, like
alcohol and prescription drug abuse, tobacco use, bullying
and how to resist peer pressure,” Demler said. “We address
making healthy choices and respecting others.”
During the graduation ceremony, four
students were selected to read the essays they wrote about
what they learned in the program. A skit was also presented
about the perils of drinking and driving.
Washington County District Attorney Mark
Bensen led the graduating students in taking the D.A.R.E.
pledge: “I know how dangerous alcohol and other drugs can be
for my body. I pledge to be responsible and never use any
unlawful drugs. I pledge to educate others about the dangers
of drugs. I value my life. I know there are other things to
do than drugs. I can be trusted to keep this pledge.”
Jeff Gonzalez, who was in the audience
to see his son Alex graduate from the program, said there
was one thing in particular he appreciated about D.A.R.E. —
after each session, students had to bring home a paper that
detailed what had been covered that day. The paper, called
Points to Ponder, had to be signed by a parent or guardian
and returned to the school.
“The paper kept us informed about what
our son was learning in the program and it also helped us to
have discussions about those points,” Jeff Gonzalez said.
Washington County Sheriff Dale
Schmidt, left, signs the D.A.R.E. t-shirt of Joe
Held, right, a fifth-grader at Holy Angels Catholic
School as classmate Daniel Krause looks on after
they and nearly 40 other students at the school
graduated from the Drub Abuse Resistance Education
Linda McAlpine/Daily News
When asked if he had
any concerns about the appropriateness of such education for
that group, Gonzalez said no.
“I think it’s very appropriate for this
age group because they’re on the cusp of middle school and
they’re likely to start hearing about these kinds of
things,” Gonzalez said. “We need to help them learn how to
resist peer pressure and this is about the right age for
The Washington County Sheriff’s
Department has been involved in teaching the D.A.R.E.
program in area schools for many years and Schmidt said he
sees it as valuable not only for the students but their
parents as well.
“From my perspective, I think we need to
provide this education because many parents find it
difficult to talk about these things with their kids,”
Not everyone is convinced the program is
effective in deterring kids from using drugs or alcohol.
“We were a part of the program for quite
some time, but then reports came out from the Department of
Justice, the Government Accountability Board and other
science studies that said it had little impact on drug use,”
West Bend Police Department Capt. Tim Dehring said. “The
chief looked at the time and money invested in doing the
program and decided it would be better to use our resources
The liaison officer program, which puts
a police officer in each of the city’s high schools and one
at Badger Middle School, stems from that decision, Dehring
An article from Scientific American that
is featured on that website, notes that “if you were one of
the millions of children who completed the Drug Abuse
Resistance Education program between 1983 and 2009, you may
be surprised to learn that scientists have repeatedly shown
that the program did not work. Despite being the nation’s
most popular substance- abuse prevention program, D.A.R.E.
did not make you less likely to become a drug addict or even
to refuse that first beer from your friends.”
Over the past few years, the D.A.R.E.
curriculum has been revamped. Gone are the long, drug-fact
laden lectures, which have been replaced with interactive
“It’s not an anti-drug program,”
Michelle Miller-Day, co-developer of the curriculum and a
communications researcher at Chapman University, is quoted
as saying in an article on the D.A.R.E. website. “It’s about
things like being honest and safe and responsible.”
Kewaskum Elementary School Principal
Jody Heipp said the D.A.R.E. program will get underway for
fifth-graders next week.
“We feel the
program is something that is proactive. It teaches about
making positive decisions relating to alcohol and drugs, how
to resist peer pressure, having character, being good
citizens and being good role models for others,” Heipp said,
adding that it will be taught by the Kewaskum Police
Drug education for parents
District hosts workshop
By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily News
Jan. 15, 2015
Debbie Adelmann of Kewaskum
looks as West Bend Superintendent Ted Neitzke holds
up a jar of spices and a bottle of a prescription
medication as an item to watch during the “Risks
Facing our Children” presentation on Wednesday night
Badger Middle School in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
afternoon, West Bend School District Superintendent Ted
Neitzke went shopping at a grocery store and, in less time
than it takes to have a pizza delivered, he rounded up an
assortment of things that kids are using to get high.
As Neitzke pulled each item out of a paper bag, he explained
to about 80 parents of middle schoolers how things like a
bottle of soda or orange juice can be used to disguise
alcohol use during a workshop Wednesday night on alcohol and
drugs at Badger Middle School.
Neitzke showed parents how items in their kitchens could be
used to get an inexpensive buzz — knowledge that is just a
Google search away for today’s kids.
“We want to help you understand the reality that your kids
are facing, even as middle schoolers,” Neitzke said during
the workshop, which was sponsored by the school district,
the West Bend Police Department and the West Bend Fire
West Bend Police Officer Justin Klopp hosted a slide
presentation in which he shared with parents a litany of
drugs, from the familiar, like marijuana and heroin, to the
latest fad drugs like DXM and ecstasy, and the signs and
symptoms of their use.
“Parents who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s may think that
marijuana is no big deal, but back in the day, weed was not
as potent as it is today,” Klopp said.
Bloodshot eyes, relaxed reflexes, an increase appetite,
dilated pupils, paranoia and disorientation are signs that
can indicate marijuana usage, Klopp said.
Cocaine can be snorted or smoked, which causes symptoms like
excitement, exaggerated reflexes, anxiety, a runny or red
nose, loss of appetite and dilated pupils, Klopp said.
“Ecstasy is still very popular. It comes in pill form and
usually has some sort of markings or design on it,” Klopp
said. “Slang terms for it include molly, wheels, rolls and
e-bombs and signs to look for are a dazed appearance, body
tremors, perspiring and nausea.”
“Heroin usually comes in small foil packs called bindles,”
Klopp said. “Heroin users often put together a kit that
contains a syringe, alcohol wipes, a spoon, a tea light and
a lighter, and something to use as a tourniquet.”
“When people start using heroin, they may snort or smoke it,
but it usually isn’t long before they graduate to using a
Signs of heroin use include a low, raspy voice, falling
asleep, depressed reflexes, facial itching, shallow
breathing and puncture marks, Klopp said.
“Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is an ingredient in cough syrup,”
Klopp said. “Signs of its abuse include a blank stare,
repetitive speech, agitation and possible violent or
West Bend Fire Department Battalion Chief Chuck Beistle told
the audience that the department’s ambulance crews regularly
deal with calls of people overdosing on drugs.
“We had a call for a middle school-aged child who was
unresponsive, that turned out to be an overdose,” Beistle
said. “In another case, a person was dropped off right at
the fire station that was turning blue and wasn’t breathing
but had a faint pulse. His friends had driven around with
him in the car trying to figure out what to do with him.
When we talked to his father, his father said he didn’t know
what was going on. We did all we could but he died at the
fire station. We later found out he had been in the hospital
about two months before from an overdose.”
Beistle said parents need to be honest if their child is
abusing drugs and that they should also know who their
children are hanging out with.
“It’s a scary and confusing world for our kids,” West Bend
Police Capt. Tim Dehring said. “Think about the kind of news
stories our children are exposed to, where they’re hearing
about kindergarten kids being shot and killed while in
school. Think about the kind of television programs that are
out there that seem to encourage growing up too fast.”
“It’s a scary world for us as parents, too, but we need to
remember that we need to be parents to our kids and not try
to be their best friend,” Dehring said.
The district will host a workshop for parents and their
middle school children from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 11 at Badger
Middle School to engage in a conversation about how kids can
avoid risky behaviors.
For more information, visit
Schimel to drug dealers: ‘You are public enemy
Waukesha County’s district attorney since 2006 sworn in as
By Matt Masterson - Freeman
Jan. 6, 2015
MADISON — Brad Schimel left no doubt about what his top
priority in office will be.
“I am committed to fighting the scourge of heroin gripping
the state and I am putting the drug smugglers and dealers on
notice: you are public enemy No. 1,” he said, drawing a
round of applause in the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda
during his inauguration as the state’s 44th attorney
Schimel succeeds J.B. Van Hollen, who did not run for
reelection to a third term, after defeating Jefferson County
District Attorney Susan Happ in November.
Waukesha County’s district attorney since 2006, Schimel
officially took the oath of office and was sworn in by state
Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson during a
ceremony in Madison on Monday.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad
Schimel addresses the audience during his
inauguration ceremony at the Capitol in Madison on
Schimel was introduced
to a crowd of hundreds by his daughters Mackenzie and
Hailey, who said their dad always puts others before himself
and taught them they could do anything if they work hard and
The state’s top lawman said in his 25 years working as a
frontline prosecutor in Waukesha he has worked with victims
from every type of crime imaginable, but the biggest
challenge he has faced is the ongoing heroin and
prescription opioid crisis.
“I have dealt firsthand with heroin,” he said, “and I am
sick of meeting parents who have had to bury a child because
With Schimel on board, Waukesha County has led the state in
the number of Len Bias homicide cases prosecuted — where
drug dealers are charged with first-degree reckless homicide
when users die from using their product. He told The Freeman
last week he is proud of that record, but wants to share it
statewide and go after such cases in communities across
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad
Schimel, left, takes the oath of office from Shirley
Abrahamson, chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme
Court. From Schimel’s left are his daughters Hailey
Mackenzie and wife Sandi.
identified Internet predators and human trafficking as other
top priorities he will handle as attorney general and vowed
to “make our college campuses, neighborhoods and Main
State Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, said
he was excited for the inauguration, specifically to hear
what Schimel would have to say. He believes Schimel will be
a great proponent for the justice system and “a wonderful
addition to the team.”
“What I am looking for is Brad to be
Brad,” Farrow said. “He is very tough on crime, he also
looks at how those who have been victims of crimes can get
their lives back on track and he has done a phenomenal job
of that in Waukesha County and I think he is going to bring
some of that experience to the attorney general’s office.”
Former Wisconsin Attorney
General J.B. Van Hollen, left, shakes hands with
newly inaugurated Attorney General Brad Schimel at
the Capitol in Madison on Monday.
Following protests in
Milwaukee in December after a police officer was not charged
in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton last summer,
Schimel stressed that law enforcement would have “no
stronger partner” than the Wisconsin Department of Justice
under his leadership.
“They will have my commitment,” he said,
“that we will work together to ensure a safe Wisconsin.”
HEROIN TASK FORCE
Sober housing considered for Ozaukee County
would create drug, alcohol-free environment for recovery
By Denise Seyfer - News
Jan. 6, 2015
OZAUKEE COUNTY — “To
err is human,” as the saying goes. Accepting the notion,
however, may prove too challenging for some, especially when
referring to individuals who suffer from drug and alcohol
addiction. With increased crime linked to drug use and
addiction, especially to heroin in Ozaukee County, some
people may want to lock up the offenders and throw away the
key. Instead, the Heroin Task Force in Ozaukee County, a
group of community leaders, citizens and law enforcement. is
working for solutions to battle the growing epidemic among
our youth. Members have been collaborating over the last
year to improve the lives of those suffering from addiction,
while preventing other teens from choosing the same path.
One cutting-edge program under consideration to curb
recidivism and relapse entails sober housing. The concept
provides an affordable drug- and alcohol-free environment
that creates a safe place for peer-group recovery support
for nonviolent, first-time offenders. “Many individuals who
are caught up in drug and alcohol dependence often have lost
all support from family and friends who do not use,” said
Ozaukee County Human Services Director Michael Lappen. “We
know that many individuals are in the jail for crimes
related to their substance use. After they have been there
for a while and have been detoxed, they may wish to try and
remain clean and sober, but their only ‘friends’ left are
the people they were using drugs and alcohol with.”
These individuals tend to be arrested
for possession and may face up to a one-year sentence.
Newly seated Ozaukee County Sheriff
James Johnson said that sober housing provides support,
structure and accountability for those with addictions.
“The program requires the addict to
pursue treatment and voluntarily submit to random drug
screens; this maintains accountability” he said. “Sober
housing gives the foundation to acquire skills that help
them to be productive members of society.”
|“A body clean of
drugs and alcohol can lead to a clean life.”
— James Johnson, Ozaukee County Sheriff
Ozaukee County does
not currently offer any sober housing options. That tide may
be turning though, as members of the task force’s policy and
advocacy committee explore potential houses to use as a
transitional living facility.
the proposed sober-housing business plan, those individuals
selected for sober housing will undergo a rigorous interview
process. Screening applicants is the “single most important
action that can be taken,” which will require a
person-to-person interview with the house managers and
staff, according to the plan.
Selected individuals must prove their
dedication to sobriety by their continued involvement in a
12-step recovery program and have to follow all house rules.
Violation of house rules are grounds for immediate eviction,
the plan said.
According to the National Institute on
Drug Abuse, drug addiction is a complex disease and quitting
takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact,
drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug
abuse; therefore, quitting becomes difficult, even for those
who want to quit.
Research shows that combining addiction
treatment medications with behavioral therapy remains the
best way to ensure success for most patients, the
institute’s information said.
Though there are some similarities,
sober housing differs from other types of transitional
housing options such as halfway homes. The key difference is
that halfway houses are for offenders of all types, where a
parole officer is required. Halfway houses place felons such
as drug-users and/or sex offenders and those who are
mentally ill that are coming from a prison, a hospital or a
In addition, halfway homes are governed
by federal and state laws. Those residents are typically
there under court order and cannot move out unless approved
by a judge, court order or a parole officer.
In contrast, privately-owned sober
housing is solely for drug addicts and alcoholics who have
completed detoxification programs, according to information
in the task force business plan. Houses are to never be
co-ed. Its sole purpose is to support the individual in
developing and maintaining holistic, healthy habits and
activities that aid in long-term sobriety.
Curfews, drug testing, household chores,
cooking and group meetings are common features in these
settings, according to the business plan. Often, house rules
mandate that individuals must be actively in school or
looking for employment. Therefore, some sober houses lock
their doors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., hoping residents are
engaged in healthy lifestyle activities.
Sober housing provides many social and
financial advantages, Lappen said.
“The county would see significant
savings in the cost of jailing people if we can reduce
recidivism,” he said. “We would also see a reduction in the
petty crimes related to drug use … stealing from cars,
garages, etc. to support their daily ‘fix.’ The department
of human services has seen a large spike in child welfare
cases related to addiction to opiates and heroin. If we can
help parents get sober, it will reduce the social costs of
kids being impacted by drugs and also the costs to the
taxpayers of removing the kids from their families and
placing them in foster care.”
Although Heroin Task Force members have
a detailed business model for sober housing, they lack the
funding to support the endeavor. Starting Point of Ozaukee
is looking for those organizations or individuals who are
willing to bring this concept to fruition with any and all
time, talents or treasures.
Sober housing provides the door; yet,
each individual must choose to walk through it.
“A body clean of drugs and alcohol can
lead to a clean life,” Johnson said.
For more information on how to help,
call 375-1110 or visit
Denise Seyfer can be reached at
Ending the addiction cycle
Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series
on heroin addiction.
By Ken Merrill - Daily News
Dec. 30, 2014
The chances that a heroin addict can simply decide to quit —
and stay clean — are slim.
Until recently, the dominant thinking in the medical
community was that addiction is a disease. People with
addictions aren’t bad people, they’re just sick, we were
Research has shown that drug addiction alters brain
structure until it becomes an uncontrollable compulsive
Over time, everything is about heroin. Interpersonal
relationships — family, friends — are only worth what they
do to enhance the addict’s ability to get more heroin.
The common thread between addiction and diseases is that
left untreated, they can be fatal.
Tina Perry, 44, is a recovering cocaine addict with a child
in prison for heroin-related offenses.
“There’s no face to an addict,” Perry said. “There’s no
lifestyle to an addict. It’s an addiction that anybody — any
race, any color, any age — could have.
“I’ve heard ‘Mom, this is a beautiful drug,’ but it destroys
and wrecks lives,” Perry said. “You can teach your children
this is not good, this is not the way to be ... it’s not
ever the parents’ fault. It doesn’t matter if you come from
money or if you don’t. The scenarios don’t matter.”
Perry started using drugs as a teenager in the late 1980s at
the height of cocaine’s popularity.
After a suicide attempt — she slit her wrists at the end of
a four-day party — she was forced into rehab.
“I completed the rehab and changed my life,” Perry said.
“Done with the drugs, done with the lifestyle. I did not go
back to the people who I hung around with. I couldn’t go
back to the kids I partied with because I probably would
have continued that lifestyle. Something just released in
me. I didn’t want that life any more.”
It’s personal, too, for Jessica Geschke, director of Alcohol
and Other Drug Abuse Services at Affiliated Clinical
Services in West Bend and a street team coordinator for Rise
Together, a support and advocacy group for recovering
Her brother’s a heroin addict — “two months clean” she said.
“That’s why I got into this.
“My family has been through hell and back,” Geschke said.
“I’m in recovery myself, trying to figure out the right way
to do this balancing act so that I don’t enable his
■ Recovering heroin addicts tell their stories on video
“Sure,” she said.
“I’ve met lots of addicts who have quit without any type of
services. They’ve been strong in their NA (Narcotics
Anonymous) and their faith and they say ‘I’ve never needed
treatment.’ “They detox at home by themselves,” Geschke
said. “It’s horrible. It’s not something I would recommend
because you don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
Nadine Machkovech, 21, was able to detox
and stay clean without a formal rehab program.
Now a recovery coach and street team
coordinator for Rise Together, Machkovech pointed to two
events that led to her recovery.
“I lost my grandma and a close friend
died of a heroin overdose,” Machkovech said. “I had a lot of
guilt and shame — why had it taken him instead of me?”
Jessie Geschke of Affiliated
Services leans her sweatshirt on the back of a chair
at one of her desks at the group therapy office on
Dec. 18 in West Bend. Her brother also wears the
sweatshirt. He is in
“long-term recovery” for heroin addiction.
John Ehlke/Daily News
After squandering the
inheritance she received from her grandmother on an extended
drug binge, Machkovech came clean.
“When I quit using I surrounded myself
with really healthy people,” she said. “I was with my sister
and her husband and I was doing 12-step support groups and
going to church. The first couple of months after I stopped
using it was hard to even think clearly. For so long, the
drugs were making all the decisions for me. It was hard for
me to understand how a person lives a normal life.
“Without my faith I know I wouldn’t be
where I am today,” Machkovech said. “I finally realized that
I had some kind of purpose in life, that I was put on earth
for a reason. Two weeks after that I met Doug (Darby) and
Anthony (Alvarado) through Rise Together and I started
sharing my story. I found my purpose in life through that.”
Darby and Alvarado are cofounders of
Steve Dahlen is an alcoholic. He’s been
sober since April 8, 2008, and works as a house manager at
Exodus House, a transitional care facility in Kewaskum for
alcoholics and drug addicts. Most of the residents are
Steve Dahlen, a supervisor at
Exodus House in Kewaskum, is shown Dec. 16.
John Ehlke/Daily News
“No one wakes up one
day and says ‘I think I’ll be a heroin addict,’” Dahlen
said. “It’s something they get into and as they progress
their life gets more and more out of control.”
Recovery is “a long process,” Dahlen
said. “It’s not just 90 days at the Exodus House and it’s
not just getting off the substance. It’s a lifestyle change.
“That person you see that’s addicted,
doing terrible things, it’s not the person, it’s the drugs,”
Dahlen said. “We made bad choices. Once you take that drug
away and you see them, six, nine months later he’s a whole
other person. It’s not the person, it’s the drugs that
turned him into that.”
For all its advances, the medical
community has been unable to develop a solution. There’s no
magic bullet to cure addiction.
“It’s a chronically relapsing disease,”
said Geschke. “It’s impossible to tell who will be
successful” in rehabilitation and recovery.
Dahlen said addicts have to hit “rock
bottom” before they’re ready to change.
“The rock bottom for me was being
arrested, taken out of my house and not remembering,” he
said. “I was the town drunk in Jackson.”
He sees people at rock bottom.
“When people come into treatment, when
you see the look on their face, they’re very desperate,”
Dahlen said. “When you talk to them after 30 days of
treatment they’re a totally different person. Sometimes they
come back a year later that they’re sober, they got married,
they’ve got kids on the way, they’ve got a house, a good
job. You never know what to expect of a resident when they
come to us.”
Dahlen said his work “makes me feel good
instead of thinking about all the crap I did.”
Katie Jones, a recovering heroin addict,
said criminal activity to support her habit was, ultimately,
“I became very good at making checks.
Forging names,” she said. “That’s ultimately how I got clean
— I went to prison. I don’t have any drug charges ... more
than for forgery. I ended up getting caught in 2004. I
stayed in the House of Corrections in Franklin for a year.
Katie Jones of Affiliated
Services sits in front of a display she created for
the group therapy room in one of their offices on
Dec. 18 in West Bend. Jones has been 11 years clean
of heroin use. She started with crystal
methamphetamine and progressed to heroin.
John Ehlke/Daily News
“When I got out I just
told myself I’m not doing that again. I remapped everything
I ever thought and started working on myself and the things
I needed to fix.”
Geschke faced a personal crisis recently
after the overdose deaths of three clients.
“I was at a point where I just said ‘I’m
done. I can’t watch people die.’ “But then I went to a
meeting of Rise Together and had a fire built under me,”
Geschke said. “I may end up burying clients but I help 50
more. I help people every day.”
Perry’s experience has led her to create
a program she calls “Just Listen.”
“It’s a positive living, positive
lifestyle and also a substance abuse awareness program,” she
said. “I want my program to be so good that they will not
want to use to be a part of my program.
“I have a race
with myself,” Perry said. “It’s not only to help my child,
but the public. The faster I can reach out to people, the
faster I will be saving lives and helping families.”
No common denominator
Heroin addicts come from variety of backgrounds
Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series on heroin
By Ken Merrill - Daily News
Dec. 29, 2014
Heroin, it seems, is everywhere.
It was once rare and expensive — the province of musicians
and entertainers. Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Charlie
Parker, Miles Davis, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton
overcame heroin addictions. Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, John
Belushi, River Phoenix, Chris Farley, Corey Monteith and
Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t. It’s a long list.
No longer. Heroin is readily available and inexpensive.
It’s synthesized from morphine, which is refined from opium
in the seed pods of poppies. A powder, it can be smoked,
snorted or injected. Inside your body, heroin is converted
to morphine and binds to opioid receptors in the brain. An
intense rush of pleasure — the “high” — quickly follows.
“It’s better than sex,” said Katie Jones, 43, a recovering
addict who works as a street team coordinator with Rise
Together, a support and advocacy group for recovering
Jones’ parents divorced when she was a preschooler, and she
said her father’s family “has a lot of addiction issues.”
When her mother remarried, she was sexually abused by her
stepdad, who ended up being sentenced to prison.
“I think a majority of my issues came from not only of it
being in the genes — y’know it runs in the family — but
because of not dealing with things myself, the sexual
abuse,” Jones said.
She began smoking marijuana and drinking
in high school, and by her mid-20s she was injecting
methamphetamine. She was introduced to heroin while on
“The first time I tried it I was like,
‘why have I never heard of this before?’” Jones said. “It
totally numbed everything. I didn’t have to think about
issues I was going through or bills or a house to take care
of — all that kind of stuff.
“It’s like a dream state,” she said.
Nadine Machkovech, 21, a recovery coach
and street team coordinator for Rise Together, grew up with
“very loving and caring” parents in Beaver Dam, attending a
Catholic middle school and graduating from Beaver Dam High
“I started using when I was 14 with
alcohol,” Machkovech said. “When I got to high school,
everybody was partying.”
Drinking, smoking marijuana. Everybody
was doing it.
Nadine Machkovech of Appleton
wears bracelets of Rise Together and WI United We
Can, two organizations she supports. Machkovech
celebrated one year of being sober Dec. 11.
John Ehlke/Daily News
quickly turned into an everyday use,” she said. “After that
it was cocaine, Adderol — and by the time I was 16, 17, I
started using prescription pills. I was getting into so much
trouble that I was looking for something more to make the
feelings that I didn’t want to feel go away. I started using
opiates, mainly Percocet. That spiraled into daily as well
as shooting them up and entering into heroin.
“I have been in recovery since Dec. 11
of last year,” Machkovech said.
Studies show that most heroin addicts
start by using prescription pills — pilfering Vicodin,
Percocet or Oxycontin from the medicine cabinet or buying
from friends. Also derived from the poppy plant, opioid
pills are synthetic heroin.
“Pills were extremely expensive,”
Machkovech said. “I had to deal a lot just to get my fix. At
first my family members were being prescribed, so that’s
where I got it from, then I was buying it off the streets.
“My family really didn’t know the extent
of my drug use, but they enabled my addiction,” she said. “I
was very good at manipulating them. I would do whatever my
dad asked just to get what I wanted.”
Machkovech said the transition from
pills to heroin was easy.
“I was already shooting up pills,” she
said. “I was looking for a quicker high. Heroin was cheaper
and would get in my system faster. It was a small step from
shooting up pills to shooting up heroin. It felt like a rush
... a wave went through my whole body and I was completely
“When I started shooting heroin I was
just tired all the time,” Machkovech said. “I was crabby. I
usually didn’t do much. Didn’t shower for days. I would be
OK as long as I wasn’t sick.”
Tina Perry, 44, is both an addict and
the mother of a heroin addict.
A cocaine addict as a Chicago-area
teenager who was forced into rehab after a suicide attempt,
Perry said being the parent of an addict is all-consuming.
“You never know how your day is gonna
go,” Perry said. “I’m scared to death to get a phone call or
get a knock on my door because I know what that means. When
my phone rings I’m afraid to look at it because I don’t
know. I don’t sleep well. I’ve had very crazy days being the
parent of an addict.
Tina Perry smiles as she looks
over the angel decoration she found that reminded
her of her daughter Dec. 9 at her home in Mequon.
Perry has a daughter in prison on heroin-related
John Ehlke/Daily News
“Addicts do not start out as criminals but they turn into
criminals,” Perry said. “They will do anything to get this
“I was already
shooting up pills. I was looking for a quicker high. Heroin
was cheaper and would get in my system faster. It was a
small step from shooting up pills to shooting up heroin.”
Bias Law an imperfect yet necessary tool in fighting opiates
Dec. 17, 2014
Last week, warrants were issued for the arrest of two women
charged with reckless homicide in the January overdose death
of Samantha Medinger.
It is one of many reckless homicide cases in the county this
year. The uptick is due to the increase in overdose deaths
from heroin and prescription opiates.
Unfortunately, this has deeply affected Oconomowoc. Archie
Badura, a young OHS alum, also died from an overdose here
this year. It is a pair of tragedies that has proven
everyone is susceptible to the devastation opiate use and
addiction can have on families and communities.
In 1986, Maryland basketball standout Len Bias died of a
cocaine overdose just days after being drafted to play for
the Boston Celtics.
At that time, it was huge national news. A young star just
starting his career collapses and dies after using what at
the time was a drug at the height of its popularity. It
stirred a national debate and a new awareness of the dangers
of hard drugs.
Congress passed the the Len Bias law to address the growing
concern. The law allows drug suppliers to be held
accountable for deaths associated with the drugs they deal.
Wisconsin passed similar legislation two years later.
For the next decade, the law was rarely used, but with the
current rise in opiate and heroin addiction and associated
overdose deaths, it is now being employed liberally
The law is often applied to friends of the victim, rarely to
high-level dealers. The law states the person who supplied
the drug can be held responsible. It doesn’t discern between
someone giving the drugs to the victim or selling the drugs.
Sometimes this is a fellow user that is also addicted to
No law is perfect and there will always be a gray area when
it comes to addiction and who ultimately can be held
responsible for another person’s overdose death.
However, as more and more young people succumb and often die
due to illegal opiate use, it is a solid start in coming to
terms with a problem that must be vigorously fought so the
tragedies that beset the Medingers and the Baduras stop
spreading to more families.
Learning more about growing problem
Dozens turn out for Milwaukee community meeting on heroin
By RICH ROVITO - Special to
Dec. 2, 2014
Tate doesn’t need statistics to prove to her that there is a
growing heroin problem in the Milwaukee area. She has
already experienced the nightmare that comes from losing a
child to the drug.
Tate’s daughter, Valerie Powers-Ferris,
died of a heroin overdose in March 2013 at the age of 36
after a lengthy battle with addiction.
"I missed a lot of clues. But who thinks there child is
Tate said, a framed photograph of her smiling daughter
positioned on a podium as she spoke to a crowd of about 75
people that gathered Nov. 19 in the auditorium at the
Milwaukee Public Schools Central Services Building on West
The public meeting, organized by Milwaukee Common Council
President Michael Murphy, aimed at starting a dialogue about
what he sees as a growing public health crisis in the
"We unite to confront the tragic trend of increasing
heroin and opiate addiction," Murphy said.
In 2013, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office
reported 216 drug overdose deaths, the highest number ever
recorded, Murphy said.
Overdose deaths last year tied to heroin use rose 34
percent to 69, up from 56 in 2012.
Through August of this year, the latest period for which
figures are available, 71 deaths from heroin overdoses had
been reported in Milwaukee County, Murphy said.
Addiction to prescription drugs that contain opiates,
which often are prescribed to treat pain or injuries, often
leads to heroin use, Murphy said.
In June, Murphy collaborated with the Zilber Family
Foundation, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and elected
officials in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Racine and
Washington counties in organizing the first Southeast
Wisconsin Regional Heroin/Opiates symposium.
"This trend has had a disastrous impact on families," he
Tate said her daughter, who was a mother to two children,
developed back problems as a teenager that eventually
required surgery. She took prescription drugs to cope with
Several years later, Powers-Ferris was once again
prescribed medication to alleviate pain after being injured
in a car accident. Tate noticed a gradual change in her once
outgoing and effervescent daughter.
"She wasn’t laughing like she used to. There was
irritability and she was withdrawn," Tate said. "I realized
the problem was with the pills at first but I had absolutely
no idea that it had progressed to heroin.
I had no idea where the depths of her addiction were
going to take us."
An opiates abuser has a 25 percent chance of a relapse
even after receiving treatment, said Christine Ullstrup,
vice president of clinical services and programming at Meta
House, a Milwaukee residential drug treatment facility.
Addressing the use of opiates, prescription drugs and
heroin is a major focus of Meta House’s treatment programs.
"You need quality treatment on demand and you need it to
be holistic," Ullstrup said.
Prescription drug and heroin abuse also is plaguing area
schools, said Patricia Daugherty, a Milwaukee County
assistant district attorney.
One in seven teenagers admitted last year to abusing
prescription drugs, she said, noting that the path to
addiction often begins in the medicine cabinet of the
"They aren’t going into the central city and buying it on
the street corner," Daugherty said.
Younger people view pills as safer than street drugs even
though heroin and prescription drugs like oxycodone have a
nearly identical chemical makeup, according to Daugherty.
Heroin often provides a cheaper alternative to
prescription drugs, Daugherty said.
For example, a pill of oxycodone in the Milwaukee area
can range from $15 to $30. An equivalent amount of heroin is
$5 to $10, she said. The depressed price for heroin stems
from a flooded international market.
About 50 people accused of taking part in a major heroin
distribution ring on Milwaukee’s East Side were arrested
earlier this month in an effort to reduce the availability
of the drug, if even only temporarily.
Making matters worse, heroin on the street today can be
as high as 90 percent pure, compare with 10 to 15 percent
several years ago.
"That’s why we are seeing so many more overdoses now.
It’s cheaper, more available and stronger than pills,"
Cavalier attitudes toward pain medications must be
addressed to help temper demand.
"We aren’t going to arrest, legislate or even treat our
way out of this," Daugherty said. "We have to, as a
community, address it from all different avenues. You have
to be willing to lock your medicine cabinets and we can’t
have the same tired ‘just say no’ message. These drugs can
kill the very first time."
Denise Sather, a psychologist who works in the wellness
and prevention office for Milwaukee Public Schools, noted
that a survey showed that the number of MPS high school
students who admitted to using heroin one or more times rose
to 7.4 percent in 2013, an increase of 2.5 percent from
MPS must remain focused on changing students’ behaviors
concerning drugs, Sather said.
But challenges exist.
"Those who speak openly about their addiction are often
treated like criminals and made to feel shame. Society
treats addiction like a moral failure," Tate said.
Powers-Ferris developed endocarditis as a result of her
extended drug abuse. The condition required open heart
surgery. Later, Tate had plans for her daughter to get back
into a recovery program.
Police found Powers-Ferris dead when conducting a
wellness check at her residence.
"She was gone and I had to bury my child," Tate said.
"The hole in my soul can never be filled."
Drug-testing policy a tool to prevent problems
Parents concerned about privacy, inclusiveness
By Katherine Michalets -
Special to the Enterprise
Oct. 30, 2014
OCONOMOWOC — In an effort
to craft a random drug test policy for the Oconomowoc Area
School District that takes into consideration feedback from
the community, an informational meeting was held Monday
night at the high school.
A few dozen people attended the meeting and questions were
raised about privacy, supporting data, the exclusion of some
students and how positive and negative results would be
Pat and Pete Williams, who live right behind the high
school’s football field, raised four children and took in 11
foster children, as well as some of their own grandchildren,
so they are familiar with what it’s like to raise a
At the closing of the one-hour presentation and Q-and-A
meeting Monday, Pat Williams said “parents are the last to
know these kids have a problem.”
She encouraged parents to take any help they can get from
the district in monitoring their children.
Earlier in the evening, Williams expressed concern about
some students who she called “underachievers” being excluded
from the drug testing, “I’d like to see them all get a
chance of getting tested,” she said. “Why are you only
targeting the overachievers?”
The proposed policy would affect intermediate and high
school students. As a result of rights guaranteed in the
Constitution, only students participating in a voluntary
sport or co-curricular activity or who exercise the
privilege of parking a motor vehicle in the district parking
lot during the school day can be randomly tested. Substances
that will be tested for by a contracted third party would
include marijuana and opiates such as heroin, oxycodone,
ecstasy, methadone, barbiturates and methamphetamines.
The testing of students will occur on a random basis and
students will be selected by a number assigned to them. The
student services director will supervise the selection of
student numbers for testing and a computerbased system
designed specifically for the purpose of randomly selecting
students will be utilized.
Jessica Karnowski has children in fifth and fourth grades
and 4K and expressed concern about whether drug testing
deters drug use. She wanted to know what else the district
is doing to prevent drug use among students.
She also felt that parents should get the final say about
whether a child, especially for those as young as seventh
grade, is tested and called the district’s proposed policy a
Lisa Dawes, director of student services, said there was
delicate discussion of whether to include seventh- and
eighth-graders in the drug testing, but the district has
heard from students that there is use of drugs at that age.
“We don’t always know,” Dawes said, referring to being a
parent of a child. “Our goal is to help parents know before
it becomes a problem.”
OHS counselor Scott Bakkum said the district has used many
presentations and resources to help inform students about
dangers to help prevent problems from occurring, such as the
Stairway to Heroin events and Your Choice.
He suggested not looking at the drug testing as being
punitive, but rather as a tool.
“We are in a different place than we were a few years ago,”
Students were surveyed as part of the Stairway to Heroin
program and he said the results were scary.
In order to create the draft policy, which would need to be
approved by the School Board before being implemented,
policies from area districts, including Muskego, Pewaukee
and Arrowhead, were reviewed. The school district has also
met with parent groups and clubs to gather feedback.
The next step will be for the policy to be reviewed by the
curriculum committee and then will go to the full School
Board likely in January, Dawes said. If approved, the
district would have the rest of the school year to figure
out logistics and then implement the policy for the
2015-2016 school year.
“(The policy) is meant to be preventative and to give kids a
powerful reason to say no,” Dawes said.
Frequently asked questions about
the OASD drug-testing policy:
How often will screenings take place?
Students become eligible for random drug testing on the
first day they participate in practice, an activity or
performance associated with a sport or extracurricular
activity or request a parking permit.
What will the drug test entail?
Random urine tests will be conducted by a drug screen
technician as a contracted outside agency of the district.
The drug screen will be conducted on site in a designated
private restroom. The agency will supervise the test;
however, will not provide direct observation while the
sample is being submitted.
What are the consequences of a positive drug test? No
student shall be expelled or suspended from school as a sole
result of any verified positive test conducted by the school
under this program. However, students with a verified
positive test under this program will be subject to the
conditions set forth in the athletics/activities code.
Student drug-testing information will not be turned over to
any law enforcement authorities except under circumstances
in which the district is legally compelled to surrender or
disclose such test results.
How will the results be shared and kept private? Who will
see the results? Testing results will be kept in a
confidential file separate from the student’s other
educational records. Results will only be disclosed to the
administration personnel who have a need to be informed in
order to implement or oversee implementation of the policy
or consequences for violating the policy.
What is a student refuses to take a drug test? Will the
refusal be construed as a drug-positive result?
The student will remain ineligible and parking
privileges will be revoked until the student is tested.
How can a student contest the results of a positive drug
test? Will a second confirming test be done? Students
will have an opportunity within 48 hours of notification of
the first positive test result to have the split samples
tested at the family’s expense.
Source: Oconomowoc Area School District
‘The devil is
in our town’
Stairway to Heroin II hits home with recollections of those lost to
addiction, message of hope to those struggling
Perttunen - Enterprise Staff
Oct. 16, 2014
OCONOMOWOC — Candid discussion silenced a crowd of more than
800 people Tuesday evening, when community members heard
firsthand how heroin has devastated the lives of their
friends and neighbors in Lake Country.
The Stairway to Heroin II presentation at the Oconomowoc
Arts Center included stories of loved ones lost to
addiction, journeys back from the brink, law enforcement’s
perspective and the medical community’s input into the
Oconomowoc High School senior
Augie Badura, 17, shares his story at the Stairway to Heroin
II presentation. His older brother Archie Badura, 19,
overdosed on heroin in May.
A parent’s worst nightmare
Jody Medinger warned the audience that what she had to say
was a parent’s worst nightmare.
She woke up from a nap on Jan. 4, went downstairs and found
her daughter Samantha, 24, dead on the living room couch.
Her daughter, she said, was a high-honor student who had
been raised with a drug-free philosophy.
“There is a misconception that this only happens in bad
families, in poor families, in families who don’t care,”
Medinger said. “That’s not true. This disease does not
discriminate. Samantha was known as the kid who didn’t do
drugs. I knew all her friends and I knew all her friends’
But the seed for addiction was planted when Samantha was
prescribed opiate painkillers after surgery on her wisdom
“My good, smart, kid made one stupid, boneheaded decision,”
Medinger said. “She chopped up a pill and snorted it and she
— these are her words — ‘fell in love.’” Medinger said
Samantha would struggle with heroin and opiate addiction for
“Unbeknownst to myself, her father, her boyfriend, her
doctor and her family, she had started using again,”
Medinger said of that fateful day. “She had decided to take
a shot before she went out for the evening with her
boyfriend. Samantha did not intend to die that day; she
intended to go out to dinner with her boyfriend.”
Speaking to a hushed audience, Medinger said her heartbreak
proves that addiction can claim anyone.
“Samantha was gorgeous, sassy, gutsy, intelligent, funny and
a wildly creative artist,” she said. “Heroin took it all,
every last bit of Samantha, then it took her life.”
“I grew up in this town and my daughter grew up in this
town. And the devil is in this town. The devil’s name is
Chris Gleason, director of
Rosecrance McHenry County, talks about his road to recovery,
emphasizing that recovering addicts need hope and a strong
sense of what they are good at to stave off addiction.
Flames held high
at Badura prayer vigil
Though painful to hear, stories like Medinger’s drive home
the point that heroin is a very real problem among the
community’s youths, said Oconomowoc High School Principal
Joseph Moylan. “If we shy away from this discussion as a
community, we are putting kids at risk,” he said.
Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel also did his
best to put things in perspective.
He said he has met too many families who are still
struggling to comprehend how this addiction sunk its claws
into their child. They’ve slid report cards across the
table, marked with all A’s — or produced photographs of
their child in a Boy Scout or team uniform.
“They wanted to convince me that their child wasn’t a bad
child.” Schimel said. “Out of all of these parents who’ve
experienced these tragedies, I’ve yet to meet the one where
their child was the ‘bad’ child.”
Schimel also shared figures that highlight the epidemic.
Wisconsin has seen the number of opiate-related deaths per
year nearly quadruple from 2000 to 2011, he said, jumping
from 2.19 per 100,000 to 8.08 per 100,000. The number of
visits to hospitals for heroin and opiate overdoses has also
quadrupled. Using Narcan, EMS and hospital personnel — along
with heroin users themselves — have brought more than 5,000
people who’ve overdosed back from the brink of death this
Additionally, Waukesha County has submitted the
second-highest amount of heroin to the state crime lab,
which Schimel attributes to both the prevalence of the drug
and the county’s aggressive policy to thwart it. Another
telling figure, he said, is that needle exchanges in the
southeastern Wisconsin region have jumped from 170,000
needles exchanged in 2008 to more than 700,000 in 2012.
“Every way you measure this, we’re in trouble,” Schimel
said, noting that figures like traffic deaths have
fluctuated from year to year, while the amount heroin deaths
has not stopped climbing.
“If we saw traffic deaths going up and up and up like this,
what would be prepared to do about it?” he asked. “I think
we’d do crazy things. Like putting a roundabout every 200
Gains are being made using options like the drug treatment
court, Schimel said, but stemming the tide of addiction will
require continued funding and potentially drastic measures.
“Are we making progress? Yes. But we are driving a Model A
and the problem just blew by us in a red Ferrari.”
High school seniors share their stories
A trio of high school seniors shared their experiences with
the devastation heroin can cause. Augie Badura and Emma Pond
spoke of the brothers they lost to addiction, while Ashley
Herbst spoke of how she battled back from the brink.
Augie, 17, said he lost his older brother Archie, 19, in
May. Archie, he said, was extensively involved with the St.
Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Nashotah and beloved by the
“We thought he might someday grow up to work at the church,”
Augie said. “Not be dead at 19 years old.”
After a childhood filled with fun, friends and laughter,
Augie said his brother started smoking marijuana in high
school, rationalizing that it was the best cure for his
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Efforts to send
him to boot camp could not halt his developing addictions,
With the assistance of counselors and other school staff,
Archie was able to graduate in 2013 — a milestone that meant
a lot to him and his family.
But, Augie said his family could see him slipping away after
“He turned down great schools and job opportunities,” he
said. When Archie started using opiates and told his
brother, Augie said that he thought it was just a phase and
didn’t tell his parents. When Archie confided later that he
had used heroin for the first time, he told his brother he
would never do it again. In retrospect, Augie said he should
have sidestepped all of those assurances and
rationalizations to get him the support he needed.
Senior Emma Pond shared memories of her brother Daniel
juggling, doing the “Carlton” dance from “Fresh Prince of
Bel-Air” and making people laugh in any situation. He became
addicted to pain pills after he received them during
recovery from a torn ACL, she said.
Senior Ashley Herbst shared her story as a recovering
addict, who was able to battle back from the brink after her
secret use of heroin was discovered by Milwaukee Police on
She had been at the point, she said, where she was using all
of her money on drugs and “wasn’t using to feel high
anymore, but to feel normal.”
Herbst will be nine months sober this month.
Moylan offered measures he believes can help combat these
addictions before they begin.
First, he said, students must realize that they’re not
invulnerable, a phenomenon he called the Superman myth.
“They believe ‘it can’t happen to me, I’m invincible, I can
quit whenever I want,’” he said. “So you drink a little
beer, you smoke a little pot; it’s no big deal, everybody
does it. But, no heroin addict ever started by using
Parents bear a responsibility, he added, and some must ditch
preconceptions about their own behaviors.
“They believe things like ‘I did it when I was younger, so
it can’t be that bad,’ or ‘If I take the keys and nobody
drives, it’s OK to have a drink at my house.’ These messages
to our children reinforce the need for our kids to use to
feel better,” he said. “It starts them on a path we may not
see them return from. We need to end the adult participation
in the cycle.”
Moylan also suggested parents and other adults make use of
the prescription drop-off at the police station.
“You have to know what a gift having a drop-off in the
community is,” he said, noting that pills can’t just be
returned to the pharmacy. “You have an opportunity to get
those drugs now out of your house when you’re not using them
and nobody will get into your personal supply.”
‘There is a face and a name to it’
Adding student and family testimonials to the program has
made it a more powerful presentation, Moylan said, adding
that the program was presented to students at the high
school and middle school earlier on Tuesday.
“It makes it more real for the kids,” he said. “There is a
face and a name to it. These are kids that they see every
day, that they like, that are popular. It’s heroism for them
to stand in front of the peers and share their story.”
NASHOTAH — A brief candlelight prayer vigil
for Archie Badura, held at the St. Joan of Arc Catholic
Church in Nashotah, immediately followed the Stairway to
Heroin II presentation on Tuesday evening.
Augie Badura, center, and
parents Andy and Lauri are overcome with emotion Tuesday
evening at the prayer vigil for Archie Badura, who died of a
heroin overdose May 15. The vigil was held at the St. Joan
of Arc Catholic Church in Nashotah.
Those in attendance
held their candles high and slowly cycled through the church
as the young man was fondly remembered — and light was shed
on the addiction he and others have dealt with, or will deal
Members of St. Joan of Arc
Catholic Church raise their candles Tuesday evening as “This
Little Light of Mine' is performed as part of a prayer vigil
for Archie Badura.
People were invited to
bring a picture of a loved one that has been lost to
addiction, suicide or mental illness to place on Archie’s
memorial, or to bring along someone who is in recovery from
— Enterprise Staff
A closer look
at random drug policies in other districts
Pewaukee has had policy in place for 10 years, Arrowhead for 8
Perttunen - Enterprise Staff
Oct. 9, 2014
OCONOMOWOC — As the
Oconomowoc Area School District fine-tunes a random
drug-testing policy to bring before district parents and its
school board, the architects of that plan say they are aware
that other schools in the county have approved similar
The policy being mulled in Oconomowoc would require students
to comply with random drug tests as a condition of
participation in any school athletics, clubs or
organizations. Testing could extend to other school-related
privileges, such as the ownership of a parking pass, as
“The impetus for this policy stems from the students we lost
last year due to drug use,” said Lisa Dawes, the district’s
director of student services and special education.
Pewaukee policy has been in place for decade
Pewaukee High School’s random drug testing policy has been
in place for a decade now.
PHS Principal Marty Van Hulle remembered when the district
started discussing the policy in February 2003. The school
board had charged administration with the task of surveying
the community to gauge what steps they wanted the district
“We were just trying to deter students from using drugs,”
Van Hulle said. “There was no watershed moment, we were
trying to be proactive.”
The policy applies to any club or group that has an adviser
or coach. It applies to approximately 75 percent of the
student body, Van Hulle estimated.
OHS Athletic Director Scott Raduka said linking random drug
tests to the combination of privileges proposed in his
district could affect an estimated 1,043 students, which
affects approximately 70 percent of the student body.
Currently, no OASD students are tested.
The first time a student tests positive for banned drugs in
Pewaukee, no matter what type of drugs, he or she will miss
30 percent of the season, Van Hulle said. The second offense
yields a 50 percent suspension and the third offense is a
lifetime ban from participation. Results are not referred to
To date, Van Hulle said the policy had its desired impact
and has not needed to be tweaked in the last 10 years.
“The key was that it had to be truly random and
confidential,” he added. “The testing company generates a
list of numbers, that we then match to the corresponding
students. If a student is absent, they don’t take the test
that day, but are on the list for next month.”
In the system used by PHS, even the dates are randomly
generated. The whole testing and communication of results is
handled by the professionals at the laboratory, Van Hulle
Extending the policy to include students’ parking privileges
is something his district did not consider, he said, and he
is not aware if that can be done.
“This policy took a lot of time, a lot of communication and
a lot of involvement with students and parents,” Van Hulle
said. “It’s not an overnight decision, to say the least.”
Now that it’s been implemented, Van Hulle said he’d
recommend a similar policy for every school district.
“I don’t think that it’s ever a bad thing to try and deter
kids from things that are unhealthy or illegal,” he said.
Confidentiality is key at Arrowhead High
Arrowhead Union High School formulated its random drug test
policy just two years after Pewaukee’s was put into place.
Superintendent Craig Jefson was just starting his tenure
during its first year of implementation, but knew that the
policy was riding a wave of community support.
“There was extensive surveying done of the community and
parents,” he said. “They felt like it was everybody’s
responsibility to deter students from drug use — including
law enforcement, medical professionals and also the
responsibility of community members and parents. They felt
the school had to play a role and asked what we were going
to do about it.”
Maintaining strict confidentiality and clear objectives have
been crucial parts of the process, Jefson said. Random
number generators generate numbers monthly, which correspond
to 20 students tested per campus.
The results of those tests, administered by ProHealth Care
professionals during the school year, are only shared with
Jefson as yearend figures, he said, and the assistant
principals are the only ones who know individual results.
“It’s as confidential as possible,” he added. “We didn’t
want to become Big Brother, we didn’t want to be punitive.
We just wanted to give students another reason to say ‘no.’
If we’re the excuse that they need, let us be that excuse.”
The district didn’t want anything else to muddy the
objective when crafting the policy, Jefson said. Linking the
testing to parking passes was debated, but ultimately the
district didn’t want to go that route and was uncertain if
it was legally permissible.
Jefson estimated 60 percent of the student body is involved
in athletics, 30 percent in music and 35 percent in other
activities. The cumulative cost for testing is $12,000 to
$15,000, which is picked up by the school district. With
that level of investment, Jefson said it is important to
focus on results.
“Though we don’t have many tests come back positive — and
most of those are for nicotine — the assistant principals
feel strongly that this policy is a deterrent,” he said. “To
back that up, there have been student surveys and anecdotal
conversations with students where they cite it as a
There must be vigilance in being aware of unintended
consequences, Jefson said.
“A kid who tests positive could continue using chemicals and
decide to quit the activity where he or she was doing
positive things,” he said. “This would be counterproductive.
Coaches have to help students who may be reactionary to
realize that we are offering help.”
And the parents still play the most important role, he
What will Oconomowoc do?
Whether to implement the policy in the Oconomowoc district —
which would apply from seventh grade on up — is a decision
that the school board will discuss and make a decision on
over the course of the next few months. Board President Don
Wiemer said this topic was visited nearly 10 years ago and
tabled because of concerns, such as how the district would
deal with false positives.
Some of those concerns have been addressed since then, with
input from the district administrative team, alcohol and
other drug abuse coordinator, high school principal,
athletic director and the district’s AODA committee.
A parent information night, where residents will be
empowered to ask questions on the proposed policy, is being
held at the Oconomowoc Arts Center at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27.
Community U to tackle area drug problem
By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily
Oct. 1, 2014
growing problem of illegal drugs, especially heroin, is a
community issue that Hartford Rotary’s new president, Police
Chief David Groves, hopes the club and the community can
address together and see results.
Part of that effort includes a program called Hartford
Community U at Hartford Union High School at 6:30 p.m.
“I looked around and thought about what things we (the
Rotary) would like to address as a pressing issue,” Groves
said. “It’s our goal to share hope with the many members of
our community dealing with the issue of illegal drug use.”
The free community-wide forum will feature presenters from
the perspectives of education, advocacy, prevention and law
enforcement. There will also be presentations from family
members and former addicts regarding the impact these issues
are having on lives.
“Narcotic abuse and addiction has become an epidemic in our
society,” Groves said. “The Hartford Rotary Club believes
that an informed community is a safer community.”
Groves said the drug problem affects the community in ways
that aren’t easily seen.
Groves said his department has been dealing with local human
“Some have confided in us that even when they tell people
about an upcoming drug test, still one in four don’t pass,”
Groves said. “So this is not a small thing.”
Groves said Washington County in 2012, according to the
Wisconsin Department of Justice, was one of the seven
counties in the state that submitted 30 or more heroin cases
to the state crime lab.
“That same year the county was also in the top 11 for heroin
overdoses,” Groves said.
Al Davies, EMS coordinator at Aurora Medical Center in
Hartford, has worked to train local police officers and
emergency personnel how to administer Narcan, a drug used to
revive people who have overdosed on heroin.
“There’s been a serious increase in the volume of people we
see who have used it,” Davies said. “There’s been a marked
rise this year from last year. I know Narcan has been used
on several occasions by emergency personnel around here.”
Groves said many robberies and other crimes committed in
Hartford and the area are related to people needing money to
purchase illegal drugs.
learn signs of drug use
By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily News
Sept. 25, 2014
West Bend School District principals and
administrators listen as Hartland Police Department
Detective Matt Harper explains how a variety of items are
connected to illegal drug use. The educators spent Tuesday
and Wednesday learning how to spot students who may be
impaired from drug or alcohol abuse during a workshop held
at the district’s Education Service Center.
Linda McAlpine/Daily News
Fluttering eyelids, body tremors,
loss of balance — these physical signs may indicate a person is
impaired from alcohol or drugs, symptoms that more than a dozen
principals and administrators in the West Bend School District have
spent the past two days learning about.
“We’re not going to pretend that we don’t have drugs in the West
Bend School District. We want to be proactive so we can continue to
keep our children safe,” district Superintendent Ted Neitzke said
Wednesday during a break in the workshop “Drug Impairment Training
for Educational Professionals.”
The West Bend Police Department organized the training sessions, led
by Steve Krejci of the Milwaukee Police Department and Matt Harper,
a detective with the Hartland Police Department.
On Tuesday, the educators learned about drugs — legal and illegal —
that can be abused, from depressants and stimulants to hallucinogens
Wednesday’s session was dedicated to learning the physical symptoms
connected to drug and alcohol abuse, and becoming acquainted with a
variety of items that can be associated with drug use.
“You might not see the heroin, but if you start finding discolored
cotton balls laying around, you might have a student who is
injecting heroin,” Harper said. “The cotton balls are used as a
Finding bits of tin foil or the corners of plastic bags — the
packaging that some drugs come in — can also be a sign of drug use,
Harper pointed out some ordinary household
products can be abused to produce a drug “high.”
He also shared some of the ways that students
may use to conceal alcohol or drug usage.
“This kind of training is really beneficial for
educators because they get to see and touch the different drugs and
the paraphernalia that is associated with drug abuse,” Harper said
during a break. “They’re learning what to look for that might tip
them off to a student using drugs in addition to the physical
Krejci said the workshop also teaches the
educators what the current drug trends are in schools.
Janelle Townsend, assistant principal at the
West Bend high schools, said one of the things that impressed her
was “how creative students can be when it comes to concealing
Harper demonstrated several items that can
easily be purchased online to “hide their stash.”
Principals from the district’s elementary,
middle and high schools attended the workshop.
“I can guarantee that after these sessions, they
will start to look at their students differently,” Neitzke said of
those who attended the workshop. “They will now have a level of
awareness about drugs that maybe they didn’t have before and they
will start seeing things that they didn’t before.”
Neitzke said the district will hold meetings in
the near future to share information about drug and alcohol abuse
“We also want to create a
culture amongst our students that if they see something, they should
say something,” Neitzke said. “We will also be looking at writing
district policies that include a higher level of consequences for
students using drugs or alcohol but that also include a level of
support to help them.”
County drug coalition reviews ‘five pillar’ approach to stopping
By Matt Masterson - Freeman
Sept. 25, 2014
WAUKESHA — The Drug Coalition of
Waukesha County convened for its second meeting
Wednesday to continue discussing possible solutions
for the area’s ongoing opioid crisis, while also
looking at some of its youngest victims.
The group — comprised of representatives from county
government, health care, law enforcement and
education — invited two members from the Wisconsin’s
Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention
Committee Heroin Ad-hoc Committee to talk about what
the state has done to curb opioid addiction.
Christy Niemuth, prevention coordinator for
Wisconsin’s Division of Mental Health & Substance
Abuse services, introduced a “five pillar“ strategy
that seeks to balance public order and health to
forge a safe and healthy community. The pillars
include prevention, law enforcement, treatment, harm
reduction and workforce issues. “We needed to
broaden our scope,” she said. “We felt that if we
focused our efforts on those five buckets... we
could really begin developing some specific
recommendations for folks working in each of those
fields and come up with a collaborative,
community-wide approach that would affect all
Data from a recent Ad-hoc Committee report was also
presented showing the number of counties in
Wisconsin that have reported heroin overdoses has
grown from 20 in 2008 to more than 50 in 2012, the
most recent year with available data.
The coalition split into three smaller groups during
Wednesday’s meeting, based on three of the pillars:
reduction, law enforcement and treatment. Following
hourlong individual discussions by the groups, the
full coalition came back together and offered
possible solutions such as increasing the county’s
drug court and creating a new drug awareness
education system to replace DARE.
County Executive Dan Vrakas also suggested compiling
a list of local organizations that families in need
could use as a resource.
While much of the meeting focused on solutions, the
group was also reminded of the problems faced by
children and infants in homes affected by addiction.
County Board Supervisor Christine Howard said there
are 17 known drug-affected babies in Waukesha
County, which prompted her to invite Amy Baumann,
vice president of programs for Safe Babies Healthy
Families, to attend Wednesday’s meeting. The local
organization works with families to make sure
children have a safe and healthy living environment,
but Baumann said the group is seeing more referrals
for drug-affected babies than ever before.
“There are times where we will get a referral per
week and I can tell you five years ago we probably
had none on our caseload,” she said. “It is just
becoming such a hardship for us just to service
these families because they take so much more time
than our traditional families.”
Each of the coalition’s three subgroups said they
plan on meeting again on their own in the coming
weeks and a meeting of the full body was scheduled
for early November.
Heroin Task Force ramps up efforts
By Denise Seyfer - News Graphic
Sept. 18, 2014
OZAUKEE COUNTY — Outreach and education are continuing in
the county’s ongoing assault against illegal drug use and
the nature of addiction. Over the past eight months,
community leaders and citizens have pressed on, meeting as
the Ozaukee Heroin Task Force committees. The group, which
is comprised of Starting Point of Ozaukee, local and county
law enforcement, the Ozaukee County Public Health Department
and other community leaders and concerned citizens, met as a
whole on Tuesday, providing updates on committee discussions
and outlining upcoming efforts.
Their task is no easy one, as leaders have stated
consistently in the past.
“It is without question the single worst crime problem I’ve
seen in Ozaukee County in my 34 years of law enforcement,”
Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Lt. Rod Galbraith said in January
as efforts to tackle the problem began.
Members of the community education committee detailed four
goals, which centered around a marketing campaign aimed
toward parents, public and private schools and students and
the faith community to curtail drug addiction, especially to
committee, comprised of the Ozaukee County Counseling
Center staff and other community leaders promoted hiring
a new addiction specialist to work on maintaining drug
sobriety through outpatient treatment services.
Cedarburg Police Chief Thomas Frank
spoke for the law enforcement committee, which initiated
greater usage of the Tip 411 service – an anonymous,
interactive tip line accessed through an app or a text
message to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office using
text keyword OZSO and send your message to 847411.
Law enforcement has put effort into
having a more active presence on social media. Frank
said officers would like to have license plate readers –
equipment that can be mounted on the outside of police
squads to document thousands of plates within an
eight-hour shift to be used for data collection and
tracking of individuals who might be engaged in illegal
According to Starting Point of
Ozaukee Executive Director Shea Halula, heroin overdoses
are reported to be most prevalent among those ages 18 to
26 years old. So the task force is urging parents to
engage their children – a group who is sometimes seen as
perpetuating a problem through defense mechanisms of
denial or inadequate education on warning signals,
information from the task force said.
Other efforts are also heightening
the anti-drug efforts, including September as national
recovery month and Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 19 through Oct.
26 in schools across the country. This year’s theme is
“Your voice can make the right choice.” Homestead High
School in Mequon will be the site of the next heroin
panel on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.
A common theme noted by local
sheriffs, police officers and counselors is that those
who latch onto heroin start drinking and using marijuana
in their early teens.
“These are typically kids that take
risks, eventually start using pills, LSD, Ecstasy and
eventually start using opiate-based prescription
medications,” Galbraith said. “Sooner or later they try
heroin and once they do, they are hooked. At this point
it becomes a downward spiral and is just a matter of
time before they hit bottom.”
In information provided at the
meeting, Jim Bohn, the coordinator of this year’s task
force events, said the goal is to raise awareness of the
increasing and dangerous use of heroin in Ozaukee County
through a more upbeat and positive outreach program.
This issue touches many high school
age students, he said, and he is hoping to rally the
community around heroin and drug addiction, which will
continue to get worse without community intervention at
A goal of the task force is to aid
in informed decision-making, especially as county and
municipal entities determine budgets so that they
allocate adequate resources needed to battle this
problem, not only from the law enforcement perspective,
but also from an educational and treatment perspective.
Seyfer can be reached at
How to defeat drug abuse?
Cross-system meeting program seeks solutions for county’s continuing
heroin & opiate crisis
Masterson - Freeman Staff
August 29, 2014
WAUKESHA — Dozens
of officials from local law enforcement, high schools, health care
and Waukesha County government came together Thursday with one
purpose in mind: finding solutions to the county’s heroin and opiate
The meeting was the first in a series of discussions aimed at
analyzing what role each agency and organization has in reducing the
number of heroin- and opiate-related addictions and deaths in the
Attendees included County Executive Dan Vrakas, District Attorney
Brad Schimel, Sheriff’s Department Inspector Eric Severson and
Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Unit Commander Frank McElderry, as
well as representatives from the Waukesha, Menomonee Falls and
Muskego police departments, plus many others, who convened during
the regularly-scheduled Health & Human Services Board meeting at the
Human Services Center. According to a July report from the State
Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Wisconsin saw a 350 percent
increase in heroin samples submitted to the Wisconsin State Crime
Laboratory by law enforcement between 2006 and 2011.
“We are not winning,” Schimel said. “We are making some progress,
but the problem is moving faster than us. The only way we are going
to win this is if prevention becomes ... number 1. They can’t pop
that first pill.”
He said law enforcement cannot arrest its way out of this crisis
because even if addicts are locked up for two years, many will come
out of prison and immediately begin using again.
Waukesha Police Lt. Joe Hendricks said through July, the city has
possibly already topped its record for most opiate-related deaths in
a single year. Hendricks stressed, however, that the cause of death
in many cases is still pending the Medical Examiner’s final review.
Dr. Steven Kulick, a member of the HHS board and a physician for
Emergency Medical Associates, said part of the problem began when
the Joint Commission — a medical accreditation body — labeled pain
as the human body’s “sixth vital sign.”
“They pushed very, very hard on the provider community to not let
anyone go untreated for pain,” he said. “I think that led us into a
place where we set patient expectations that they would receive very
potent pain medications that in many cases, I would say, are simply
Kulick added that an individual
physician writing a prescription for an opiate such as Vicodin or
Oxycodone might not be aware of how often these drugs are getting
diverted away from their intended user.
Increased education was urged by attendees, not
only for the pharmacists prescribing the drugs, but also for teens
and children in high schools, middle schools and even elementary
“Children are getting into first-line drugs
through medicine cabinets,” Waukesha County Public Health Manager
Nancy Healy-Haney said. “The (early) experimentation has dropped
from the age of 12 to 10. So, yes, it is important to do education
in the middle schools, but it might be helpful to start in the fifth
Severson said parents must understand the
importance of locking up their prescription opiates. He said
Waukesha County sees more deaths each year from heroin and opiate
overdoses than it does from accidental shootings, but the message
has still not gotten across to the parents.
Representatives identified possible solutions
such as privately funding a drug lockbox distribution or
implementing student surveys in local schools to see just how
prevalent the problem is.
Schimel said too many parents have a sense that
their children or their schools could never have a drug problem —
that it is always somewhere else. He suggested a blind study within
local schools to show parents how close the issue hits to home, as
well as a handbook for parents to help keep their kids away from
drugs, or provide resources for help if they are already addicted.
The group plans to meet again next month and
invite more guests, including pharmacists and members of the private
“It is certainly my desire that this is not our
first and last meeting — if it is then we have wasted all of our
time,” HHS Board Chair Joe Vitale said. “There will not be a magic
pill to this, but I do believe that if we all put our heads together
and work diligently at this problem, that in fact, we can get a
better handle on it.”
Heroin dealer sentenced to 3 years in prison
Bend man, 19, sold drugs to undercover agent
By AMANDA VOSS - Daily News
August 19, 2014
On Monday, four
days before Kyle Ryan’s 20th birthday, he was sentenced to three
years in prison in Washington County Circuit Court for selling
of West Bend was charged with three counts of manufacturing or
delivering heroin less than 3 grams, three counts of maintaining a
drug trafficking place and possession of drug paraphernalia. During
a plea hearing in June, he pleaded guilty to one count of
manufacture or deliver heroin less than 3 grams. The remaining
counts were dismissed, but read into the record during sentencing.
He appeared in custody before Circuit Judge James Pouros with
attorney Jeffrey Jaeger. Ryan said he was guilty, ashamed and
embarrassed before he was sentenced.
“I never thought at 19 or any age I would be involved with heroin,”
He said he’s trying to become a productive member of society and
this experience has been life-changing.
“Heroin leads to jail or a casket,” Ryan said.
Assistant District Attorney Mandy Schepper recommended Ryan serve
three to four years in prison and five years of extended supervision
while Jaeger recommended Ryan serve probation. If Ryan’s probation
is revoked, he recommended prison time.
Schepper said Ryan sold heroin to an undercover agent April 30, May
7 and May 9.
Schepper said several items of drug paraphernalia, including a
marijuana pipe, several tin foil squares, a digital scale, razor
blades and a plastic straw with white residue on it, were found in
the home he shares with his grandparents.
“There are three paths heroin users take,” Schepper said, adding a
heroin user dies, becomes a thief or becomes a drug dealer —
perpetuating the community’s heroin problem.
“We need to figure out what to do with Mr. Ryan,” Jaeger said. “I
don’t believe this case rises to the level of immediate confinement
He said Ryan started using oxycodone that was prescribed to him when
he had his wisdom teeth pulled, then he started using heroin.
“Mr. Ryan followed path three as Ms. Schepper indicated. They were
small deliveries,” Jaeger said.
Jaeger said Ryan told the presentence investigation writer going to
jail saved his life and he will get treatment.
“This is a sad situation all around,” Pouros said. “The community is
affected. The defendant was dealing drugs. He was potentially
dealing death. Small deliveries kill. People taking small amounts
3 men revived from heroin overdoses in 2 days
Crews administer Narcan; officer taken to hospital after stuck with
By LINDA MCALPINE - Daily News
August 5, 2014
responded to at least three heroin overdoses in two
days in Washington County and three lives were saved
because of Narcan.
Overdoses occurred in a gas station bathroom, a
Walmart parking lot, and another while the man was
Germantown Fire Chief Gary Weiss told the Germantown
Village Board on Monday night that his department
trained the officers of the Germantown Police
Department how to administer Narcan three weeks ago
and, on Saturday, that training saved a life.
Narcan is a drug that can reverse an overdose.
Officers responded to the Speedway Gas Station on
Riversbend Lane shortly after 5:30 p.m. Saturday
after a man locked himself in the bathroom. After
gaining entry into the bathroom, it was evident the
man was suffering from a heroin overdose. An officer
gave the man Narcan, according to a Germantown
Police Department news release.
Weiss, who had been on the scene, said the man
regained consciousness and was transported to a
local hospital. Weiss said Saturday’s incident was
the first time a Germantown Police officer
administered Narcan while on duty.
Another Germantown officer involved in the incident
was stuck by a used hypodermic needle the man had.
The officer was admitted to the hospital.
The news release notes it is a common occurrence for
police officers and emergency medical personnel to
encounter needles and other sharp objects at
incidents involving controlled substances. The
officer’s gloves failed to protect his hands when he
The Washington County Sheriff’s Department dealt
with a heroin overdose Friday night, according to a
At about 7:30 p.m. Friday, a 36-year-old Richfield
man drove into a ditch on Highway 167 near the
Richfield Truck Stop. The deputy who arrived
discovered the man unconscious and noticed fresh
injection marks on his arm and a heroin kit in the
stopped breathing so the deputy pulled him from
the vehicle and started CPR. When Richfield
Rescue arrived, Narcan was administered, which
revived the man. He was taken to the hospital,
where he was medically cleared but he was
arrested for fourth-offense OWI and possession
of drug paraphernalia and booked into the
Washington County Jail.
West Bend Police arrested a
27-year-old Milwaukee man Friday night after he
allegedly overdosed on heroin in the West Bend
Walmart parking lot.
According to a news release,
the man was found unresponsive by his car in the
parking lot about 10 p.m.
A citizen flagged down a
police officer who was in the area and the
officer administered Narcan.
The man regained
consciousness and was taken to the hospital.
he was medically cleared, the man was jailed for
possession of a controlled substance, possession
of drug paraphernalia and bail jumping.
home helps get addicts back on their feet
By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff
August 1, 2014
Kevin Schaefer, John E. Arneson
and Patrick Reilly discuss SALS Sober House
during a Thursday interview.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
WAUKESHA — We see the headlines every day: “Man charged with
heroin possession,” “Addiction on the rise.” John E. Arneson
and the rest of the staff at Sober Alternative Living
Services are attempting to change the end of the story.
“I opened this place with rose-colored glasses,” said
Arneson, who has been the SALS executive director since
2004, when a friend opened his eyes to the lack of
transitional housing for recovering addicts in Waukesha. At
first Arneson opened his arms and wallet to any addict who
wanted to stay at one of his two properties, but after
almost going broke, he realized he needed more structure.
about isolation but recovery is about being open and
“We’ll take anyone
who’s ready, willing and able to work on their sobriety — no
one’s forced to be here — but they have to be clean, and
they have to want to be here. It can’t be just mom and dad
wanting them here,” Arneson said. Residents can come and go
as they please, but they must submit to drug and alcohol
testing and absolutely must remain clean and sober, he said.
Fast forward to 2014, when SALS has grown to four men’s
homes — two in Waukesha and another pair in Milwaukee. A
women’s home is planned for Milwaukee in the near future.
Kevin Schaefer wears a “One Day
At a Time” bracelet.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
Arneson and his
staff have helped more than 1,000 men get back on their
feet through giving them a place to stay for anywhere
from a few months to a few years, helping them find
employment and prevent relapses. That’s where
professional recovery coaches like Kevin Schaefer come
“It’s just like a coach on the sidelines of a basketball
court. The team needs a plan of attack,” Schaefer said.
“Addiction is about isolation but recovery is about
being open and honest.”
That’s what Justin, who asked that his last name not be
used, has learned in his time at SALS. Justin used
opiates for four years until his parents found drug
paraphernalia in his room and suggested a rehabilitation
facility in Oshkosh. After treatment. he did well for a
while, but then his cravings started increasing. He
struggled finding employment. He felt defeated.
“Treatment is only as good as the 30 days it is,”
Schaefer said. “The real world is tough.”
Justin sought out SALS after hearing about it through
the rehabilitation facility in Oshkosh.
“It’s better than living with my friends because there
are others here with that same mindset of trying to
remain sober,” said Justin, who recently got a job after
his coach, Schaefer, physically took him to job
interviews and encouraged him through any rejections.
Sober coach Kevin Schaefer and
SALS Executive Director John E. Arneson at one of
SALS Sober House locations.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
Placement Director Patrick Reilly said in the old
days, all SALS residents were alcoholics, but
nowadays anyone younger than 30 that comes through
the door is addicted to opiates.
“Heroin is easier to get than
beer,” he said. “Here, we provide a safe
environment, and it’s these guys that make it worth
Schaefer said the hard work,
tears, late-night phone calls and stress are all
worthwhile when he sees a resident overcome his
demons. And that’s the story people need to hear.
“Everyone’s talking about the
epidemic, but the one thing we’re not talking about
is hope,” Schaefer said. “There is hope.”
For more information, or to
candidates put spotlight on heroin crisis leading up to August
Masterson - Freeman Staff
July 25, 2014
— With just over three weeks remaining until the Republican
primary to determine who will become the new Waukesha County
sheriff, the two candidates are both focusing on the heroin
crisis facing the area. Sheriff’s Department Inspector Eric
Severson and former Town of Lisbon Police Chief Tom Alioto
both want to cut the number of addicts and overdoses in the
county. Both men will outline their platforms at today’s
“One-on-One with Your Public Official” program, held from
7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the Waukesha County Business
Alliance, 2717 N. Grandview Blvd., Suite 300.
“It is a serious epidemic and I want to deal with that in
Waukesha County,” Alioto said. “I want to make that a focus
of this election, a focus of what would be my
administration. I want to focus every resource that we
possibly have towards taking a dent out of this heroin
said that if elected, he would work toward partnering with
medical professionals, including emergency room doctors and
EMS workers, and training all Sheriff’s Department deputies
in deploying Narcan to help counteract overdoses.
Severson said he would address his plan of attack during
today’s forum. But according to his website, he plans on
continuing participation with the Drug Enforcement
Administration, HIDTA/US Marshals Fugitive and HIDTA heroin
task forces. He also points to his 12 1/2 years of drug
enforcement leadership, which he says he will use to “build
stronger partnerships with other agencies and you, the
stakeholders of Waukesha County.”
Recently, Alioto has released ads attacking the current
manner of business in the Sheriff’s Department. He says that
if he’s elected, officers who break the law will not be let
off the hook by resigning, but will face prosecution if the
crimes warrant it.
Alioto has specifically mentioned Sarah Massa, a former
lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Department who resigned
earlier this year after she was accused of stealing
Severson said that while he is aware of the ads, he has not
heard them himself and chose not to comment because of that.
“I am consciously tuning them out,” he said. “I don’t listen
to the radio at work — I am working. I don’t pay attention
Alioto had previously been arrested and ticketed for
shoplifting from a Waukesha Farm and Fleet in 1988.
‘It is more powerful than the fear of death’
Schimel says heroin addiction in county, state continues to grow
Masterson - Freeman Staff
July 23, 2014
WAUKESHA — While Narcan use has helped to save the lives of
heroin overdose victims across Waukesha County, District
Attorney Brad Schimel said the battle against the powerful
opiate is still being lost.
In a presentation to the County Board at its meeting Tuesday
night, Schimel and Rebecca Luczaj, the coordinator for the
Criminal Justice Collaborating Council, offered a host of
statistics showing how despite strong efforts, heroin and opiate
addiction is still spreading on a county, state and national
“In the state of Wisconsin and across America, and in Waukesha
County too, the No. 1 cause of accidental death is no longer
traffic crashes,” Schimel said. “It is no longer anything to do
with alcohol, it is now an opiate overdose. That is the new
cause of accidental death and it has been for several years.”
|“We are not
winning. We are moving forward, but we are driving a
Model A and the problem just flew by us in a Ferrari.”
Schimel said that in 2011, deaths from overdoses overtook those
from traffic accidents in the state. He added that the average
age of someone who begins intravenous drug use is now equal to a
high school senior.
“This addiction is different than anything we have ever dealt
with before because it is more powerful than the fear of death,”
Narcan, an opioid antagonist which counteracts the effects of a
heroin overdose, has reportedly saved thousands of lives in
Wisconsin and its use is growing. In 2008, there were 173
reported deployments of Narcan in Wisconsin. By 2012 there were
787 deployments reported by users themselves and another 3,700
from emergency medical services.
However, according to Schimel, the addictions are still not
“The big problem is, at the same time we have seen those Narcan
saves increase, we have also seen the deaths continue to rise,”
he said. “We are not winning. We are moving forward, but we are driving a
Model A and the problem just flew by us in a Ferrari.”
One of the programs offered by the CJCC
is a Drug Treatment Court, which follows a “deferred
prosecution model,” according to Luczaj. Under this,
offenders who plead guilty are allowed into the 12 month
rehab ilitation program, which requires frequent, random
drug and alcohol testing, substance abuse treatment, regular
status hearings before the drug court judge and more.
Schimel said the average person coming into the program has
already been revived by Narcan seven times.
According to Luczaj, since the program’s
creation in 2012, there have been 111 applications to the
program, of which 92 have been accepted, and so far, there
have been 12 successful graduations.
“Drug Treatment Court is a lot more like
parenting at times than it is like criminal justice,”
Schimel said. “The standard criminal justice methods weren’t
working and this has given us some success and we are
turning these folks to becoming productive members of the
Drug dealers avoiding Ozaukee County
enforcement still pursuing those who get drugs to residents
Achterberg - News Graphic Staff
July 8, 2014
PORT WASHINGTON — Call it a
Drug dealers apparently have gotten the word to stay out of Ozaukee
County. They apparently have realized drug laws are enforced
aggressively – and judges don’t treat their cases lightly.
Prosecutors have responded by finding different charges to file.
In one recent arrest – and the district attorney said last week
similar cases are being investigated – a Milwaukee man was charged
with two felony heroin-dealing charges, even though the drug deals
allegedly occurred in Milwaukee County.
Antonio C. Green Sr., 33, was charged in late June with three counts
of conspiracy to commit manufacture/delivery of heroin. The
complaint was immediately sealed so the case wouldn’t turn up on an
online court database. Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland issued an arrest
warrant. Green, arrested July 1 in Milwaukee, made an initial court
appearance Wednesday. He is being held in the Ozaukee County jail on
a $25,000 cash bond.
Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said law enforcement and
prosecutors are responding to drug dealers with a new approach.
“We needed to develop a strategy to deal with the fact that drug
dealers were not consummating their drug deals in Ozaukee County
because they recognized there was a significant law enforcement
presence,” Gerol said, adding that law enforcement has been starting
to see dealers switch the meeting location to the other side of the
The crimes addressed in the
criminal complaint allegedly occurred in a parking lot of a store in
the 5600 block of North Bayshore Drive in Glendale on June 17, June
18 and June 19. An undercover sheriff’s deputy, who was in Ozaukee
County, arranged by text to meet Green for the first time to buy a
gram of heroin for $160, the criminal complaint said.
The text also said that they could meet at that
location but it had to be quick because “I gotta meet my man back in
Grafton on his break for his share,” the deputy texted, according to
The two met. Green got into the passenger seat
of the deputy’s car and turned over 1.1 grams of heroin for $160 in
pre-recorded buy money, the complaint said.
A second drug deal – also for a gram for $160 –
allegedly occurred in the same parking lot the next day. Again, the
deputy was in Ozaukee County when the transaction was arranged. The
deputy also texted he “had to make it back to Grafton in time,” the
The third deal – this time, three grams for $500
– allegedly occurred on June 19. In a text setting up that deal, the
deputy mentioned wanting to pick up some more “to bring back to
Grafton,” the complaint said.
“As a continuing effort to fight the heroin
epidemic, the Ozaukee County Drug Task Force remains committed to
bringing to justice any drug dealer that targets the citizens of
Ozaukee County,” said Lt. Rod Galbraith, the sheriff’s department’s
lead detective and supervisor of the drug task force, in a news
release announcing Green’s arrest.
The district attorney said his office can assert
jurisdiction if they can show that the drugs are intended for resale
or distribution in Ozaukee County.
“The idea is to create fear in drug dealers over
selling in Ozaukee County and profile their purchasers and hopefully
deter them from selling to people from Ozaukee County,” Gerol said.
Each of the three charges carries a maximum
penalty of 12 1/2 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, court records
Gary Achterberg can be reached at
‘This is the
work of the devil’
First responders, deputy DA share realities of heroin problem
Michalets - Special to The Freeman
June 26, 2014
DELAFIELD –To illustrate how
problematic the heroin addiction problem is in Waukesha County,
Delafield Police Officer Dan Bloedow on Thursday described two
brothers who bought heroin and shot up together in their home,
resulting in one brother dying from an overdose while his mother and
brother monitored him after he was found unconscious in the
“But the monitoring was actually watching him die,” he said.
The heroin addiction awareness meeting was organized by Alderman
Jeff Krickhahn and held in Delafield City Hall on Thursday.
Krickhahn became emotional while he spoke of how a friend’s son died
from a heroin overdose.
Krickhahn said heroin has increasingly become the party drug of
choice for today’s youth because of the euphoric high it can provide
and its availability. The presenters at Thursday’s meeting also
shared how heroin addiction often begins after someone starts
abusing opiate drugs like oxycodone. Those people may move on to
heroin because they can no longer get the prescription drugs.
Bloedow said he has only responded to the single fatal heroin
overdose, but he worries about the future.
“We are very fortunate that we haven’t had another, but I fear that
another one is not far off,” he said.
Officer Landon Nyren, a member of the Major Investigations Unit with
Bloedow, said officers have seen every type of person imaginable
abusing heroin or other opiates. Another prescription drug that
Nyren has seen abused is Fentanyl, which comes in both preparations
to be taken orally and patches.
One fatality Nyren investigated came after a man complained to his
Fentanyl supplier that the patch wasn’t working well, so the
supplier told him to “suck on it.”
The man’s friends later found him dead with the patch still in his
“Not only does your friend die of an overdose, you find them,” he
Nyren said the majority of property crimes in the area are prompted
by heroin or other opiate addictions.
According to data Bloedow read, in 2013 there were 227 heroin deaths
in Wisconsin and between 2008 and 2013 there was a 201 percent
increase in fatal heroin overdoses.
Problem is complex
The problem is not one that police arrests can solve, nor can
prosecution fix, said Waukesha County Deputy District Attorney Susan
“This is the work of the devil,” she said. “There is no answer.”
Opper has been assigned only to prosecuting narcotic cases in
Waukesha County, something that wasn’t needed a few years ago, but
now narcotic-related homicides exceed traffic deaths in the county.
She said heroin addicts eventually need a fix each day just so they
don’t get sick. It’s a constant struggle to figure out how to pay
for the drugs, where to get them and what mode of transportation can
be taken to get them.
“I would not wish this on my worst enemy even for a day,” Opper said
of a heroin addict’s lifestyle.
The issue is complex, she said, explaining that even if a judge
orders treatment, a person can refuse to cooperate. Friends can also
be enablers. The addiction can even begin at a young age, Opper
said, because high school athletes may be prescribed a strong pain
pill for an injury and when they are no longer able to get the
prescription, they might turn to heroin.
“They think they are invincible,” she said.
The police officers, Opper and members of Lake Country Fire & Rescue
also shared their frustration with the supplies provided for free
through a needle exchange program, including burners, tourniquets,
alcohol wipes and a drug called Narcan that counteracts a heroin
overdose. Opper said she has heard of friends who have called each
other to locate Narcan instead of calling 9-1-1.
Awareness is important, Nyren said, suggesting that when a doctor
prescribes a strong pain pill, the patient could ask if something
like aspirin might work as well.
Opper said awareness must also be increased in the medical community
and work is being done locally with the Medical College of
Lake Country Fire & Rescue Chief Jack Edwards suggested having an
exit plan prepared for young people when they are exposed to heroin.
“Everyone thinks it’s the big city problem, but it’s not,” he said,
adding almost all of the LCFR paramedics have heroin overdose
For more info
■ For more information about heroin, go to
www.doj.state.wi.us or call 608-266-1221. Other resources
include 1-800-662-HELP (4357),
www.theflyeffect.com. A pamphlet will also be available at the
Delafield Public Library, 500 Genesee St.
press’ against heroin
Counselors: Community must fight addiction on many fronts
Perttunen - Enterprise Staff
OCONOMOWOC — Staff at area
schools will note that the names being associated with fatal drug
overdoses are all too familiar. Sometimes, said counselor Scott
Bakkum of Oconomowoc High School, it is a name that was announced
over the loudspeakers at graduation only a year or so ago.
June 26, 2014
Social worker Deborah Fowler said she can’t link all of those
fatalities to heroin, but she has seen more fatal overdoses of
former students hit the news pages in the last five years than in
all of her previous 10 years combined.
The sobering topic of student heroin use — and other student
addictions — marks the penultimate installment in the Enterprise’s
five-part series that examines the roles and responsibilities of
today’s school counselor.
A month ago, the series began by exploring the increasing mental
health needs of students. Two weeks ago, a system of more intense
career guidance and planning was examined. In the week that
followed, the Enterprise delved into counselors’ impact on
curriculum. The series will conclude next week with a snapshot on
how counselors rely upon measurable data to gauge the impact of
‘The stakes are so much higher’
In partnership with Rosecrance, a group
with substance abuse rehab facilities and which has an office in
Pewaukee, OHS runs Substance Abuse Services that meet once a week
for an eight-week period. These are for those who are recovering
from marijuana, other drugs and alcohol — or those who are concerned
about friends and family.
Though heroin use among students is a relatively new trend, which
Bakkum said really started to become evident three years ago, the
recovery group this year was primarily composed of those who are
recovering from heroin use.
Self-reporting hasn’t occurred as much as it may for other
substances, which Bakkum speculated may be due to the stigma of
heroin use. With students coming back from treatment and
participating in the school’s recovery groups, however, a dialogue
“Students who are going through this are realizing that there are
more kids like them than they know,” Bakkum said.
What staff members have been able to learn from the students
themselves, Rosecrance and from law enforcement is that heroin is
cheap, easy to get and more potent than it’s ever been. It could
affect any student, regardless of academic standing or
“I don’t think kids realize the potency,” Bakkum said. “They are
teenagers and adolescents; a lot of it is their (curiosity.) Some of
them have been on drugs and are no longer getting the high they
want, so they want to try something different.” Though the
progression isn’t the same for every student who tries and becomes
addicted to heroin, there are those who make the leap up from
“Their belief is that, well, if it’s a prescription pill ... that a
doctor prescribed it, it must be safe,” Bakkum said. “But, they’re
not using it how it was prescribed.”
Pills are expensive, Fowler said, and economics are sometimes the
driving force for the deadly switch to heroin.
In addition to the potency, Bakkum said there are those who believe
that the spread of Narcan may manufacture a false sense of security,
with students believing that they might be brought back from an
overdose simply by having Narcan administered.
“It’s sort of one of those things where I think kids are pushing the
boundaries much more so, and they don’t realize the stakes are so
much higher with some of the drugs, heroin in particular,” he said.
“It’s one time and the student could die. That’s a very different
risk than the drugs in the past.”
One of the things that needs to happen is a more aggressive effort
on the part of the entire community, Bakkum said, which includes law
enforcement, schools, peers, the business community and parents.
A more active parenting style could make a big impact, Bakkum said.
Gone are the days where the landline is in the living room and
conversations about risky behaviors may be overheard and thwarted by
Students now hatch plans to engage in risky behaviors on the devices
they carry in their pockets. Parents need to remember that the
students have no expectation of privacy and that they can expect to
see what is being said via text.
“Parents should know that it doesn’t start with heroin,” said Lisa
Dawes, the director of student services and special education. “It
starts with something else.
“When you talk about that full-court press, where all people have to
be driving as hard in order to make change, that change has to start
with things that people find a little more tolerant, but not
necessarily legal, like alcohol. To be thinking about that ... I
don’t think anybody sees their child moving on from having drinks at
a family party or graduation party to moving onto a heavy-duty drug
like heroin, but I think that’s what’s taken everybody by surprise —
where it starts and where it ends up.”
Parents need to monitor that activity and texting, Fowler echoed,
even with students placing tremendous pressure on them not to do so.
“Parents should respond to the changes that they notice,” she said.
“That could be changes to friendship groups, eating and sleeping
habits, changes in academic performance at school, truancy, or
changes to hygiene.”
Community seems receptive
The community is showing some responsiveness in its ability to face
these tough truths, Bakkum said. A “Stairway to Heroin” event at the
Oconomowoc Arts Center in April was the most attended assembly in
recent memory, with 575 parents and students in attendance.
Ninety-one percent of those in attendance reported that they found
the information useful and an unprecedented 100 percent reported
that they felt more knowledgeable about the risks and behaviors.
A second event is planned for next fall, with possible firsthand
input from a student who is recovering, Bakkum said.
Milwaukee County organizations, agencies bring awareness to heroin
FIDLIN - Special to The Post
June 20, 2014
The statistics do not lie.
With heroin use and the number fatal
overdoses rising dramatically the past five years, few people would
argue sweeping efforts need to be made to curb the epidemic.
While attention has turned toward elected officials and law
enforcement to enact and uphold laws that address the issue, local
leaders have asserted no one profession or organization can be
handed the task of putting an end to heroin use in the Milwaukee
Efforts to stem the tide should not be done in a vacuum,
advocates trumpeted at the regional symposium, "Heroin: Not on Our
Protecting Our Communities," that was held June 4 at Marquette
The daylong event, which included representatives from Milwaukee
and four neighboring counties, included speakers from a number of
nonprofit organizations and public agencies that shared a similar
Throughout Milwaukee County, members of disparate groups have
agreed to band together and fight the heroin epidemic that is
sweeping the entire Milwaukee metropolitan area
– including some
of the most affluent communities.
The Milwaukee-based AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin has nine
branches throughout the state. As its name implies, the organization
focuses primarily on creating awareness around HIV and AIDS.
More recently, however, the ARCW has rallied around other causes,
including the rise in heroin use by youths.
"No one group is the solution to this," said Dennis Radloff, drug
prevention specialist with the ARCW’s Milwaukee branch. "It takes
all of us together."
As is the case with most organizations, Radloff readily admits
funding is one of the largest obstacles as the ARCW aims to carry
out its mission. Challenges aside, he said the organization is
committed to offering a range of treatment and prevention services.
One way the ARCW has been involved with the heroin crisis has
been the distribution of so-called heroin antidote kits that contain
Narcan, a drug that is intended to reverse the effects of heroin.
Since word has spread about the rise of heroin use, a variety of
coalitions has sprouted up throughout the region to advocate toward
greater collaboration within and across county lines.
In Milwaukee County, an organization known as the Substance Abuse
Prevention Coalition has been working in tandem with the Community
Advocates Public Policy Institute to bring awareness to the issue.
"The law enforcement are important. Organizations working toward
treatments and cures are good. Community organizations are good,"
said Kari Lerch, a prevention services manager with the coalition.
"But none of these groups can do this alone. Our community
coalitions are a great way to bring everyone together."
While grass-roots efforts and nonprofit organizations have been
viewed as an important mechanism toward bringing awareness to the
epidemic, state-run agencies hold equal weight.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services Bureau of Prevention,
Treatment and Recovery has an office in Milwaukee. The agency has
been designated as the state’s official opioid treatment authority.
Tanya Hiser, a specialist with the agency, said a variety of
medication-assisted treatments is available to heroin addicts. The
bureau works as a liaison to help bring the treatments to people who
As advocates scramble to get the word out about heroin’s rise, a
variety of efforts is being taken to gain awareness. One such method
has been a multimedia campaign known as the Fly Effect.
Playing off the lyrics in the age-old nursery rhyme, "I Know An
Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," the campaign basically states one hit
of heroin is one hit too many.
Like the nursery rhyme, which portrayed the old woman and her
ongoing efforts to build on her previous experiences, heroin use can
start small and quickly grow out of control.
"Even the biggest spirals have the smallest start," said
Christina McNichol, an agent with the Wisconsin Department of
Justice. "In the case of heroin, what are users going to do to get
their next hit?"
Southeastern Wisconsin has been especially hit hard with a more
than double amount of heroin overdoses having been recorded from
2009 to 2013. In 2009, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and
Waukesha counties notched 45 overdoses. In 2013, the five-county
region encountered 98 overdoses.
of heroin again a topic of discussion
MCALPINE - Daily News
June 19, 2014
Pat Franklin of the town of Jackson, who lost two
sons to drug overdoses, wipes a tear after watching a
testimonial video Wednesday at Badger Middle School in West
John Ehlke/Daily News
WEST BEND -
Steve Melstrand started
his road to heroin addiction at 13 by smoking marijuana.
Melstrand, 25, of West Bend, who has been in recovery from
his heroin addiction for the past four years, told the story
of the hell he and his family went through during a program
for the parents of fourth-through ninth-graders hosted by
the West Bend School District at Badger Middle School titled
“Learn the Risks.”
“By the time I was in high school, I started experimenting
with other drugs. They were easy to get. I tried cocaine,
ecstasy, acid and mushrooms,” he said. “It wasn’t long
before I tried pills like oxycodone and Percocet.”
The next step in his journey was to try heroin.
“I started using heroin in my junior year in high school.
One of my biggest regrets is that I let it take over and I
gave up the things I had a passion for, like wrestling,”
He was so hooked on heroin that even the overdose death of a
close friend didn’t cause Melstrand to try to stop his
“It was surreal. It hit me hard but I felt I was
invincible,” Melstrand said of his friend’s death by heroin.
It took a near-death experience of his own at the hands of
heroin to make Melstrand seek help.
“My parents got me to talking to a psychiatrist and that got
me to reevaluate and change the priorities in my life,”
Melstrand said, adding that his newfound Christian faith has
helped him turn his life around. He is now married with a
young son and is a partner in his father’s small business.
Melstrand’s stepmother, Emily Melstrand, said as a parent,
she felt she was naive about drug use, especially heroin. “I
guess I just didn’t want to believe it,” she said, noting
that the family had been active together.
West Bend Police Capt. Tim Dehring said even though heroin
and prescription drug abuse are problems in the community,
he said he has a strong belief they can be beaten.
“We need to defeat denial. These problems are here,” he
said. “We also need to defeat the stigma, so that those who
have these problems can talk about them and get the help
West Bend School District Superintendent Ted Neitzke gave
the audience some solid advice to take home.
“Have a code,” he said. “Develop a code or phase that your
child can use when calling you if they find themselves in a
situation where there is pressure to make a bad choice.”
Neitzke encouraged parents to be parents, to be engaged with
their middle schoolers.
“We as parents are involved with our children when they are
in elementary school, but then we tend to step back when
they turn,” he said. “That’s when we need to be more
involved. Know who your children’s friends are. Get to know
their parents. Have your house be the one that the kids want
to come to. Be that safe place for them.”
Neitzke said the School District, along with the West Bend
Police Department and Elevate, a community resource center
in Jackson, plans to host other community conversations
about issues facing Washington County.
disturbing new face of heroin addiction
Fidlin - News Graphic Correspondent
MILWAUKEE — The numbers vary
slightly, but every statistic tells a similar story: Heroin use is
on the rise – regionally and nationally.
June 10, 2014
Southeastern Wisconsin has been especially hit hard with a more than
double amount of heroin overdoses from 2009 to 2013. In 2009,
Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties notched
45 overdoses. In 2013, the five-county region encountered 98
With an unfortunate common bond, civic leaders and organizers
gathered Wednesday at Marquette University for a symposium, “Heroin:
Not On Our Watch – Protecting our Communities.”
Ozaukee County Public Health Department
The rise of heroin use
among youth has become a well-publicized epidemic this year.
Wednesday’s daylong event was designed to put the spotlight
on possible solutions.
While a number of possible remedies were discussed –
including stiffer laws and changing regulations on
prescription medications – time and again, speakers sounded
a desire to collaborate with one another, across county
Paul Decker, Waukesha County Board chairman, did not mince
words as he discussed the epidemic throughout Waukesha and
its surrounding communities. Decker said Waukesha County’s
burgeoning population is, in part, made of people who have
wanted to distance themselves from urban challenges.
“Denial is one of our biggest challenges,” Decker said. “But
education is the key thing. We’ve got to collaborate. We’ve
got to work together.”
Other counties abutting Milwaukee County – including Ozaukee
and Washington counties – are also facing the issue head-on.
Like Waukesha County, organizers in the other two counties
have held meetings that have drawn larger-than-expected
Kirsten Johnson, director of the Ozaukee County Health
Department, said a locally-oriented heroin summit was
expected to draw no more than 200 people when it was held in
January. More than 600 people showed up.
In the immediate aftermath of the summit, Johnson said the
health department is meeting regularly with other groups,
including the sheriff’s office and the county’s two
primarily health care providers, Aurora and Columbia St.
“We have partners from every walk of life in our community,”
Johnson said. “You name it, and everyone’s at the table.
We’re really talking to one another.”
Local leaders also touted preventative measures. Ronna
Corliss, a drug prevention coordinator with Washington
County, said there has been a growing interest toward
enhancing parent-student dialogue about the epidemic.
Corliss pointed to a recent series of meetings in West Bend
that were well attended.
“We have to talk about how we can work beyond the borders of
our counties,” Washington County Manager Joshua Schoemann
Early in the symposium, the hundreds of attendees heard from
drug experts from outside southeastern Wisconsin, including
state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who gained national
attention when he pursued legislation to curb the rise in
For Nygren, the fight against heroin was personal. His
daughter, Cassie, has been struggling with addiction to the
drug. Nygren touched on his daughter’s radical
transformation – from being a high-achieving student to one
who was frequently truant.
“We never had the opportunity to see her graduate because
the straight-A student dropped out,” Nygren said. “You think
of heroin as something that is happening in dark alleys, but
my beautiful baby girl was using it.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee Common Council
President Michael Murphy are among the local leaders who
helped bring the symposium to fruition with philanthropic
support by the Zilber Family Foundation.
As the seven-hour symposium wrapped, Murphy recounted some
of the startling statistics aired throughout the day. But he
expressed optimism as well.
“I believe, going forward, the information we gathered will
serve as a foundation to making a difference,” Murphy said.
“There is a sense of urgency. We’re all reaching out to the
Federal views diverge on proper use of
June 10, 2014
How do you have a conversation about prescription drugs that
provide critical pain relief to millions of Americans yet also
cause more fatal overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined?
The answer is: It
of the federal government describe the problem — and potential
solutions — of abuse with Vicodin, OxyContin and other opioid
drugs in different terms.
The White House
has called opioid abuse an "epidemic" and a
"growing national crisis" that causes more than 16,500
deaths per year. Meanwhile, the head of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and a top-ranking Drug Enforcement
Administration official have called on doctors to dramatically
scale back their use of prescription opioids.
this May 30, 2014 file photo, Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg answers questions
during an interview at The Associated Press in Washington.
While Hamburg acknowledged that opioids are overprescribed,
she again emphasized the importance of keeping the drugs
accessible to Americans with chronic pain _ a group
estimated at about 100 million, or about 40 percent of all
But while Food
and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg acknowledged
that opioids are overprescribed in an interview with The
Associated Press, she again emphasized the importance of keeping
the drugs accessible to Americans with chronic pain — a group
she cites as roughly 100 million, or about 40 percent of U.S.
"I think we
have an important balancing act of trying to assure that safe and
effective drugs are available for patients who have real pain and
need medical care," Hamburg said.
approach has won kudos from physicians who use opioids to treat
pain, including the American Pain Society, a group that receives
funding from the largest pain drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc.
and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
But it also
exposes a rift in the government's messaging about the appropriate
role of opioids, which are among the most frequently prescribed
drugs in the U.S. CDC officials have called for more limited
prescribing, citing figures that show a four-fold increase in
opioid sales between 1999 and 2010, during which opioid overdose
deaths more than tripled.
dangerous medications and they should be reserved for situations
like severe cancer pain where they can provide extremely important
and essential palliation," CDC Director Tom Frieden said.
"In many other situations, the risks far outweigh the
It's a view
shared by anti-addiction advocates like Physicians for Responsible
Opioid Prescribing, a group that wants the FDA to severely
restrict pharmaceutical marketing of opioids.
past decade, there have been more than 125,000 painkiller overdose
deaths because drug companies were permitted to falsely advertise
these drugs as safe and effective for long-term use," said
the group's president, Andrew Kolodny.
that most overdoses occur in people abusing opioids at unsafe
doses, often by grinding up tablets for snorting or injecting. But
groups like PROP say that addiction often begins when doctors
prescribe the drugs for common aches and pains. Opioids include
both legal and illegal narcotics, such as heroin, morphine,
codeine, methadone and oxycodone among others.
medical role for opioids has been the subject of vigorous debate
for over 20 years.
For most of the
last century, doctors reserved opioids for acute pain following
surgery or injury, or for severe, long-term pain due to deadly
diseases like cancer. Using the drugs for more common ailments was
considered too risky because they are highly addictive.
But in the 1990s,
a new generation of specialists argued that opioids, when used
carefully, could safely treat common forms of chronic pain,
including back pain and arthritis. That message was amplified by
pharmaceutical marketing for new, long-acting drugs like OxyContin,
which the FDA approved in 1995.
the maker of OxyContin, would later plead guilty and pay $634.5
million in fines for misleading doctors about the risks of
addiction and abuse with OxyContin. But opioid prescriptions
continued to rise unabated.
It's a trend
closely monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, where
officials say an oversupply of painkillers is fueling the black
market for both prescription opioids and heroin.
Assistant Administrator Joe Rannazzisi says it is
"outrageous" that the U.S. consumes 99 percent of the
world's hydrocodone — the most prescribed medicine in the
controlled substance shouldn't be the most widely prescribed
medication in the United States," he said in an interview.
"If we believe we're the only country that knows how to treat
pain that's a pretty arrogant attitude."
To be sure, any
successful effort to curb drug abuse must involve a wide range of
players, including state lawmakers, medical boards, pharmacy
chains and medical educators.
In her interview
with the AP, Dr. Hamburg emphasized this multifaceted approach
while highlighting two recent steps by the FDA to reduce harm from
In September, the
FDA narrowed the prescribing label on long-acting opioids like
OxyContin to specify that they should only be used for "pain
severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock" therapy
that cannot be managed with other approaches. Previously, the
label simply stated the drugs were for "moderate to severe
In October, the
FDA recommended reclassifying hydrocodone-containing combination
pills like Vicodin to limit how doctors can prescribe them.
But both of those
actions came after outside pressure. The labeling change was in
response to a petition from the physician group PROP, which sought
much stricter labeling than what the FDA ultimately put in place.
The change in classification for hydrocodone pills came after
nearly a decade of prodding by the DEA, which argued that the
drugs had been misclassified in the first place.
says the difference in tone between various agencies reflects
their unique missions. As he sees it, the FDA's primarily role is
to review drugs and make sure they are marketed appropriately. But
the DEA's mission to investigate drug diversion brings his staff
much closer to the ongoing epidemic of abuse and addiction.
sometimes people need to get out from behind their desks and
actually go and look at what's going on," Rannazzisi said.
"Because in the end this is a national tragedy that's not
|Some say addiction drug
WASHINGTON — The government's top drug abuse experts
are struggling to find ways to expand use of a medicine that
is considered the best therapy for treating heroin and
Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan on Wednesday pressed officials
from the White House, the National Institute of Drug Abuse
and other agencies to increase access to buprenorphine, a
medication which helps control drug cravings and withdrawal
symptoms. It remains underused.
First approved in 2002 — under a law crafted by Levin, a
Democrat, and Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch —
buprenorphine was hailed as a major advance over methadone,
the decades-old standard for addiction treatment. Among
other advantages, buprenorphine has a lower risk of overdose
and milder side effects. It can be prescribed as a take-home
medication in the privacy of a doctor's office, helping
patients avoid the stigma of going to a methadone clinic.
But even amid a national epidemic of drug abuse and
addiction, access to buprenorphine remains limited by
federal restrictions, inconsistent insurance coverage and a
lack of acceptance by physicians.
“As long as we have too few doctors certified to prescribe
bupe, we will be missing a major weapon in the fight against
the ravages of addiction,” Levin told the forum, which also
included patients and non-government medical experts.
Only 4 percent of the 625,000 U.S doctors who are eligible
to prescribe buprenorphine have received certification to
use the drug, which comes as a pill or a film that dissolves
under the tongue. Certification requires an eight hour
training course in addiction medicine.
An estimated 2.5 million Americans are addicted to
prescription painkillers or heroin, known collectively as
opioids. Less than half are receiving medical treatment.
“It's somewhat paradoxical that physicians will use opioids
to create a problem, but there seems to be reluctance to
help address the problem,” said Dr. Westley Clark of the
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Clark and other
experts noted that there is still a stigma attached to
treating opioid addiction and many physicians are
uninterested in learning how to use drugs like buprenorphine.
Communities rally to battle heroin outbreak amongst teens and young
his first stint with the Ozaukee County Anti-Drug Task Force in the
1990s, Lt. Rod Galbraith of the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department
remembers only one resident who used heroin. "We didn’t see it
as a problem," he says. "We were more worried about crack
cocaine migrating north."
By the time
Galbraith returned to the task force in 2009, though, heroin use had
exploded in Ozaukee County.
Since 2009, nine
people in Ozaukee County have died from heroin overdoses. The number
is much higher in the more heavily populated Waukesha County, where 21
people overdosed in 2012.
devastating," says Galbraith.
use in metropolitan Milwaukee suburbs reflects a disturbing trend
statewide. In 2012, heroin-related deaths doubled in Wisconsin to
nearly 200. By comparison, the state averaged 29 such deaths each year
from 2000 to 2007.
student Luke Pulsifer died of a heroin overdose last June, Brookfield
East High School teacher Chris Guthrie wasn’t aware heroin was a
problem in the community. "I was shocked," he says. Today,
Guthrie is actively involved with the Elmbrook Heroin Drug Awareness
Task Force, an effort spearheaded by Elmbrook School District
officials and Pulsifer’s parents, to raise awareness and provide
resources to combat the growing heroin problem.
On Jan. 22, the
task force held a summit on the local heroin problem, drawing more
than 600 people. A similar forum held in Cedarburg on Jan. 29 by the
Ozaukee County Anti-Drug Task Force also attracted a
standing-room-only crowd. "I’ve never seen the community this
engaged," says Galbraith. "It’s very telling."
Miller, medical director of the Herrington Recovery Center at Rogers
Memorial Hospital-Oconomowoc, says prescription drugs like Oxycontin
and Vicodin are the gateway to heroin. "Because they’re
prescribed by a doctor, kids think they can’t be harmful," he
Once hooked on
prescription opiates, addicts often switch to heroin, which delivers
the same high at a cheaper cost. But the potency of heroin can vary
widely, making it all too easy to overdose. "It’s like playing
Russian roulette each time you use," says Guthrie.
suburban heroin epidemic requires a change in culture, says Galbraith.
With heroin hitting those in their 20s the hardest, Galbraith says it’s
important to talk to kids early on, before they’re exposed to it.
"We need to educate parents of young children now," he says.
year, the Wisconsin Legislature unanimously adopted the Heroin and
Opiate Prevention and Education legislative package, also called HOPE.
Comprised of four bills, the HOPE package helps reduce the diversion
of opiate-based prescription medications, removes barriers that make
people witnessing an overdose reluctant to call emergency medical
services, and ensures naloxone (a drug used to counter the effects of
an opioid overdose) is widely available.
"My hope is
that we can prevent at least one family from suffering through the
effects of heroin and prescription addiction," says Rep. John
Nygren (R-Marinette), whose daughter struggles with heroin addiction.
Though heroin is
considered highly addictive, Miller says rehabilitation is possible.
"Unlike other drug addictions, there are medicines available to
assist with treatment," he says.
If loved ones
show signs of addiction like sudden personality changes, secrecy,
dishonesty or increased sleepiness, Miller advocates taking action
better to speak up and encourage people to get help than leave it
alone and hope for the best," he says.
Miller says, opiate addiction has become a true epidemic. "People
can’t take comfort that it’s not in their community. It’s
By age 25,
Tyler Herzog had been in and out of rehab and jail for years.
The Menomonee Falls native started abusing prescription pills
when he was a teen. Once an honor roll student at Menomonee
Falls High School, Herzog had graduated to heroin by his senior
can only take once to get hooked, and once that happens it’s a
tough cycle to break," says Herzog’s mom, Julie Berg.
2011, Berg says her son seemed to be overcoming his eight-year
addiction. He had been clean for nine months, had a job and had
just moved into an apartment.
a fight with his girlfriend, Herzog turned to heroin one last
time. He fatally overdosed in February 2012.
she did everything she could to help her son. He entered 12
different rehab programs throughout his battle with addiction.
was in a lot of different treatments," she says. "I
never stopped looking for something that could work."
recovery at a halfway house in Waukesha, Tyler was asked to
write a letter as part of his treatment.
the letter, he said that he hoped if he would die that his death
would give some of the lost hope to change," Berg says.
letter has given Berg the strength to share her experience as a
mother searching for answers to the downward spiral of her son’s
addiction. She now participates in The Fly Effect campaign, a
heroin awareness campaign launched by the state’s Department
is beyond what any of us could ever imagine," she says.
average age of first use among recent initiates is 22 years old.
number of heroin-related deaths in Wisconsin jumped by nearly 50
percent in 2012 to 199, according to a survey of county
coroners. From 2000 to 2007, Wisconsin averaged 29 such deaths
1995, the number of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who have
tried heroin has increased by more than 300 percent, according
to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
twice as many drug deaths occurred in Waukesha County in 2012 as
number of countywide heroin deaths more than tripled from six in
2011 to 21 in 2012 year, according to the Waukesha County
Medical Examiner’s Office.
to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, more
than 75 percent of people who try heroin once will use the drug