Substance Abuse

We applaud the proposals that have come from a report released by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Rep. John Nygren based on recommendations from the governor's task force on opioid abuse. 

 Opioid abuse and addiction is not the addiction issue for Northern Counties. We see little opioid abuse while Meth has ravaged our communities. Meth has become the all-encompassing addiction issue that has severely impacted local and county law enforcement personnel, court systems, jails, and county HHS departments. Shown below is a partial summary of what we are experiencing:

·         100 % increase in the number of Children in Need of Protection and Services petitions filed with the court from 2013-2016.

·         98% increase in children placed in out of home care from 2011-2016.

·         38% increase in the number of alleged child abuse/neglect victims from 2008-2016.

 Governor Walker has called for a special session to consider the proposals in the report released by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, based on recommendations from the governor's task force on opioid abuse.

 The following are report recommendations likely to show up as legislative proposals that will cross the Opioid/Meth boundary and provide help to Northern Counties to combat the Meth epidemic. 

 1.      Fund treatment and diversion alternatives: TAD programs are currently funded at $2 million per year over one biennium. The report recommends maintaining that level and adding $150,000 to bring the program to more counties. The report also recommends $261,000 to launch a pre-booking diversion pilot program to give non-violent arrestees a treatment option that "diverts them away from the criminal justice system and into support and healing in the community."

 2.      Fund Medically Assisted Treatment centers: The report recommends about $2 million to fund three new Medically Assisted Treatment centers in underserved parts of the state. Those centers offer assessment, counseling, treatment, case management services and help with housing and employment.

 3.      More money for Regional Prevention Resource Centers: The report recommends giving $330,000 to such centers, which support community coalitions focused on substance abuse prevention and treatment. The report also recommends spending $1 million to fund competitive grants to implement the best treatment ideas developed by those centers. 

 4.      Enable family interventions: The report recommends allowing relatives to commit a drug-addicted family member in the same manner current law allows for alcohol addiction.

 5.      More resources to help families: Child Protective Services have seen a "significant surge in casework" from opioid-related child welfare cases, the report found. The report recommends an unspecified amount of additional state resources to help counties hire staff to manage those caseloads. 

 6.      Create a recovery charter school: The report recommends allowing the University of Wisconsin's Office of Educational Opportunity to charter a recovery school for high school students struggling with addiction. Students would be able to receive in-patient treatment while continuing their high school education.

 7.      Fund a "Recovery Corps" program: Peer support specialists and recovery coaches, in addition to being trained and certified, have shared experiences with the people they help. Kleefisch and Nygren said they believe the offer the "biggest bang for the buck" and recommend spending $60,000 annually to train 20 recovery specialists to serve at substance abuse and peer support sites.

 8.      Recovery coaches in correctional settings: The report recommends $500,000 to fund recovery coaches in community corrections settings with high concentrations of offenders who are addicts.

 9.      More training for school personnel: The report recommends $100,000 to provide additional treatment to teachers, administrators and school nurses.

 10.  Fund health care grants: The report recommends the Department of Workforce Development allocate an unspecified amount of money for grants specific to health care. 

11.  Go after dealers and traffickers: The report recommends giving the Department of Justice $420,000 to hire additional criminal investigation agents focused specifically on drug traffickers operating in Wisconsin. 

 12.  Drug testing recipients of some public benefits: Walker, in his last two-year budget, introduced a measure requiring some applicants to take a drug test in order to receive food stamps, job training or unemployment insurance. Those who fail the test would be required to receive state-funded treatment in order to remain eligible for job training. One positive test would be allowed during treatment. The report notes that proposal. 

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