The Coalition has gone through an evolution, leading us to the coalition it is today. What originally started as the Winnebago County Heroin Task Force in 2013 morphed into The Winnebago County Drug & Alcohol Coalition in 2017. In 2019 the coalition was awarded a federal Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Grant.
The original design of the Heroin Task Force followed a four-pillar model; read below to learn what those pillars were and how that work is being carried forward today.
The initial focus of the prevention pillar was increasing awareness and and providing information and education to students, parents, and the community. Some examples of this work are the tri-county The Real Happy Hour initiative and the re:TH!NK Addiction Run/Walk, now the Run to Recovery 5k. The work of the prevention pillar continues with our Prevention Action Team.
Harm Reduction Pillar:
Harm reduction is often the most controversial topic on the subject of substance use and/or misuse. Harm reduction focuses on keeping those who use substances safe. The harm reduction pillar did many great things, including helping to make medication-assisted treatment (MAT) a reality in Oshkosh. They also worked with Vivent Health (formerly the AIDs Resource Center of Wisconsin, or ARCW) to bring Lifepoint Needle Exchange to Oshkosh. Lifepoint aims to reduce the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and other potential harms associated with injection drug use and reduce overdose deaths. This service distributes clean injection supplies and Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of opiates like heroin, while also providing information and referrals to treatment resources. Lifepoint is available at Winnebago County Public Health 8 am-4 pm M-F (112 Otter Ave, Oshkosh, WI 54901).
The original treatment pillar was a combination of the Winnebago County group and the Fox Valley Substance Abuse Coalition's Treatment Pillar. These teams game together and identified resources from Green Bay to Fond du Lac, put together resource documents to share with the public, and promoted the use of 2-1-1.
The work started by this group is continued by the Treatment & Recovery Action Team.
Law Enforcement Pillar:
Although many people view substance use and misuse as, at least partially, as an issue of enforcement. One of the major gaps identified throughout this process was the ability for law enforcement to effectively enforce treatment for those arrested on drug-related matters, or even connect people to resources that could help them.