On May 14, 2013 the Winnebago County Heroin Task Force rolled out an action plan to address the growing problem of heroin addiction in Winnebago County and other nearby areas. The task force started with a pillar approach and made great gains to develop strategy around fighting the addiction in this area. Each pillar worked hard since day one to develop action steps on how to end Heroin addiction. This is the work of a community that cares and will bring hope to users and their families.
Since then we've reshaped our vision, the team that's supporting this initiative and how we manage the strategies to end drug addiction related deaths in Winnebago County. We've reformed into a coalition of driven community leaders and we're developing and implementing meaningful strategies to move people from addiction to contribution without addiction in this county.
Four Pillar Approach
Winnebago County is addressing heroin addiction with a Four Pillar strategy focused on a coordinated, comprehensive approach utilizing multiple community stakeholders. This approach works because the stakeholders are our friends, neighbors, doctors, community leaders, and law enforcement. By using best practices and up-to-date research, we can address community needs with community resources.
We are dedicated to reducing heroin addiction, overdoses, and deaths. We also aim to raise community awareness, serve as a resource, and develop action plans that will create healthy and safe environments. This problem will not go away quickly but we can overcome it. Anyone willing to work together on this problem is welcome to attend the pillar and general meetings. Together we can prevent and help those addicted, overcome addiction.
This pillar has established three goals and are working on them in separate work groups. These goals are aimed towards schools, parents and families, and the community. The school subgroup is working to expand comprehensive evidence based drug prevention and to partner with school districts on a k-12 prevention curriculum. The parents and families subgroup is focusing on gathering resources and creating universal messages to parents and caretakers. They are currently helping with a tri-county campaign called The Real Happy Hour. The community subgroup is focused on presenting information to community groups and area businesses to raise awareness of the effects of addiction. The community subgroup help start the re:TH!NK Addiction Run/Walk.
Harm Reduction Pillar
Often the most controversial of the four pillars, harm reduction is the means to keep users safe. Key members of the harm reduction pillar help bring a medically assisted treatment, Addiction Medical Solutions, to Oshkosh.For more information on this clinic please visit their website: AMSOshkosh.com. The Harm Reduction Pillar has partnered with ARCW to bring the LifePoint Needle Exchange service to Oshkosh.The purpose of LifePoint is to reduce the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C and other potential harms associated with injection drug use. LifePoint seeks to reduce overdose related to injection drug use and provide information and referral to treatment. The LifePoint Needle Exchange Service is open Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM at the Winnebago County Health Department, 2nd floor of 112 Otter Avenue. In order to create viable action plans, we agreed on a working definition of harm reduction, see below.
Harm Reduction involves establishing achievable goals which, when taken step by step, can lead to a healthier life for drug users and a healthier community. It accepts that abstinence may not be a realistic goal for some drug users, particularly short term. Harm reduction involves an achievable, pragmatic approach to drug issues.
At the the kick off meeting we identified community resources, gaps to resources, problems, and how to address those problems. The group as decided that the best way to address those problems is to combine our treatment pillar with the Fox Valley Substance Abuse Coalition's Treatment Pillar. The group will be focusing on ways to improve the treatment outcomes for everyone in the Fox Valley. They have created a Guide to Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery Support. This guide has information on residential/inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, adolescent treatment, medication assisted programs, and much more. The services listed are from Green Bay down to Fond Du Lac. The group promotes 2-1-1, a resource that provides information on treatment options, detox, and other information. A person may call 2-1-1 or go online to get information.
Law Enforcement Pillar
There were two gaps identified in this group, and the one that is most prevalent includes enforcement of treatment. The idea is to get addicts into treatment as soon as possible, and get them into a program for counseling and whatever else they might need to get and stay clean. This pillar with the Sheriff's Office is piloting a drug program to assist those who were arrested on drug charges. This program is used by the court as a condition of bond. The participant will come to the Sheriff's Office every two days to provide a sample to be tested on a 13 drug urine kit. It is hoped that this program will allow those arrested with a drug charge to be diverted from jail to a treatment progam. By staying clean, these participants will have their charges reduced or dropped.