Addiction Town Hall Event

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Public encouraged 

to attend Addiction Town Hall Tuesday

By Ted Pennekamp


Everyone is invited to an Addiction Town Hall event which will be held on Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m., in the George Family Education Center at Crossing Rivers Health.

Featured speakers will include Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Lynn Rider, Crawford County Health and Human Services Director Dan McWilliams and Crossing Rivers Health Community Resource Director Rick Peterson.

Topics will include:

•The nature of addiction, what works and what doesn’t work

•Current addiction problems facing Crawford County

•Treatment Court - alternatives to incarceration

•Treatment, recovery and building resilience in rural Wisconsin

•Where do we go from here?

“The majority of cases we see in court are drug cases,” said Judge Rider. “Drug cases have had an exponential growth, particularly felonies where meth or alcohol are involved. The opioid addiction we see in other places is just starting to rise in our area.”

Rider also said that meth, which has been a big problem in Crawford County and the surrounding area for many years, is still going strong, but people are now bringing it in. “Now, they’re not making it, they’re bringing in meth because it’s cheaper than making it,” she said. 

Rider said that those who are convicted of drug crimes are incarcerated, but when they are let out, they go right back to their same network of people and continue to use meth or other drugs. They say they don’t get enough support in the community, said Rider.

To combat this, Rider said that Crawford County is forming a Treatment Court which will work toward helping the addicts change their focus and address what triggers them to use drugs. Rider said the Treatment Court will also address treatment so that the addicts can become sober and stay sober. Rider noted that Crawford County is, in fact, seeking to hire a part-time Treatment Court Coordinator.

Rider said that the Addiction Town Hall event is aimed at brainstorming for ways in which to beat the addiction problem and to help people gain the community support they need so they don’t re-offend, and also so they can be employed and can become productive citizens.

Dan McWilliams said that the Health and Human Services Department has seen an increase in substance abuse and substance addiction affecting families in Crawford County while at the same time, there has been a decrease in services. 

McWilliams said that the addict’s friends and family are greatly affected because the addict’s role in the family tends to deteriorate or go away completely. They also can get to the point where they not only can’t take care of their family, they can’t take care of themselves. He said the situation often gets to where the addict and their family need intervention and support from social services. He also said, however, that there isn’t an abundance of out-patient or residential services in the Crawford County area. 

Rick Peterson said the Addiction Town Hall event is an opportunity for the community to get involved in helping to solve the problem.

“It (addiction) creates a burden on everybody in the county, because of the crime, because of the usage and the lack of support,” said Peterson, who encouraged everyone to come to the Addiction Town Hall event.

Peterson said it takes everyone to get involved and that some inroads have been made through the use of tele-medicine with psychiatrists and other health professionals who aren’t on site with the patient.

“Community support can make a change in people’s lives,” said Peterson, who noted that all ages are welcome to attend the Addiction Town Hall event on Feb. 13.

Peterson said that it is a plus if anyone can help the addiction problem in the community even if in a small way. He said he would like to see people come away from the Town Hall event with something specific that they can do. 

“Addiction impacts everyone,” he said.

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