Wisconsin Substance Abuse Struggles: Drug and Alcohol Addiction

The rise in substance abuse rates in the U.S. is alarming. In 2015 alone, 52,404 people died as a result of drug use. More Americans than ever are using drugs and, sadly, more are dying. The federal government is well-aware of the problem, and many state governments are taking steps to combat the crisis. The epidemic is spreading faster than resources can be created to combat it.

This is a nationwide problem, but some states are suffering more than others. A popular magazine recently named Wisconsin as the “drunkest state in all measurable ways.” Wisconsin has the highest proportion of heavy and binge drinkers in the country. Twenty-three percent of all adults in the state binge drink, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Wisconsin’s Battles with Drug Abuse and Alcohol Addiction

Stats for Addiction Treatment - WisconsinEven with all this drinking, Wisconsin still wrestles with the same out-of-control illicit drug use as the rest of the country. Prescription painkillers are used by about 9 percent of Wisconsin adults for non-medical reasons, according to a 2014 report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. These patients often resort to illicit drugs, such as heroin, once their prescriptions run out. In 2015, 873 Wisconsin residents died from illicit opioid use.

Wisconsin’s drug-related death rate is a bit lower than the national average, but the numbers are still disconcerting to government officials and families who have lost loved ones. The most commonly abused drugs in Wisconsin are:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin (or other opioids)
  • Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax and Valium)

Use of heroin and other opioids has increased significantly in Wisconsin over the past decade. Officials attribute this spike to easy availability and lower costs than for prescription painkillers. These addictions typically begin innocently enough. A post-surgery patient or chronic pain sufferer receives a prescription from his or her doctor for an opioid-based medication, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone. The patient develops a dependency on the drug, but then the prescription runs out. The pain returns, and at that point, withdrawals may ensue. Black market prescriptions are extremely expensive, unlike heroin.

Those with these dependencies often turn to heroin, which produces a similar effect, but is easier to access and cheaper to purchase. As the addiction progresses, the user needs more and more of the drug to feel the same effects – sometimes even to function. Overdoses are common.

The wide availability of Naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, has saved countless lives. But it has not addressed or solved the underlying problem of addiction. Heroin and other synthetic opioids are cheap to produce and procure, and traffickers earn a handsome profit. Since heroin is most often injected to produce the quickest high, many addicts also confront the danger of contracting hepatitis C and HIV because of dirty needles. These issues have only added to the urgency of solving the drug epidemic.

Shortfalls in Access to Recovery Programs in Wisconsin

The drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in Wisconsin has prompted the government to create the Strengthening Treatment Access and Retention Program, administered jointly with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the University of Wisconsin. Progress is being made, but there are still far fewer spots in quality treatment programs than there are those who need help. Most states have found that the increase in substance abuse has greatly outpaced the resources available to combat it – and Wisconsin is no exception.

Perhaps the most upsetting part of the high number of deaths associated with illicit drug use is that those deaths could have been prevented. Proactive outreach that limits access to drugs and increases the availability of quality treatment programs would save lives. Wisconsin, like most states, was unprepared for the rapidly growing substance abuse epidemic. Creating an infrastructure to address these concerns takes time, and while Wisconsin is definitely on the right track, it will take more time before an adequate number of effective programs are available in the state.

Florida Treatment Offers Positive Options

One state that has seemed to figure out how to balance the needs for recovery with the influx of substance abuse is Florida. The Port of Miami unwittingly funnels illicit drugs into the country, and distributors are able to make quick work of getting the product to the consumers. This has made Florida a sort of ground zero for the illicit drug epidemic, but it has also meant that government and treatment programs work together to help those who have fallen victim to addiction.

The high demand for recovery programs in Florida has prompted professionals in law enforcement, medicine, mental health, and addiction medicine to create a comprehensive network of first-class treatment programs in the state. The world-class facilities serve not only local residents, but people from across the country and all over the world seeking a path to recovery.

So many people come to Florida for treatment, that “The Sunshine State” is also known as “The Recovery State.” Florida’s sunny, tropical climate makes it the perfect place for Wisconsinites in need of recovery. The warm, relaxing weather gives patients a break from the sometimes-difficult weather of the Midwest while they work toward sobriety.

The Treatment Center Provides World-Class Recovery Care

The Treatment Center employs the most experienced and well-qualified personnel in the fields of addiction medicine and mental health. Our practitioners have the real-world knowledge and evidenced-based treatment plans to help you attain a lifelong recovery and a healthy existence.

Each of our guests is treated as an individual: There is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan at The Treatment Center. We believe in supporting the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Guests work with our staff to design a customized recovery program that may include holistic therapies, 12-step programs, faith-based programs, inpatient treatment, and aftercare. We also understand our guests rely on support from their loved ones, so we created a family support program as part of our services.

Our beautiful facility is situated just two miles from the beautiful beaches of South Florida, providing an environment where relaxation, rejuvenation, and healing can take place.

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