Marshfield Clinic Health System starting new program to curb drug abuse

A new program from Marshfield Clinic Health System will be launched in September to help people suffering from substance abuse in northern Wisconsin.

MCHS Recovery Corps program is a part of AmeriCorps, a national service network launched in 1994 under the Clinton administration as part of the National and Community Service Trust Act. Since then, nearly 1 million AmeriCorps members have contributed approximately 1.2 billion hours in service across the country.

The new program is recruiting 20 full-time AmeriCorps members to work as recovery coaches throughout the area served by the HOPE Consortium, a partnership of 10 different organizations working to address issues related to opioid abuse. It’s active in Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Price, and Iron counties, as well as in Forest County Potawatomi, Lac du Flambeau Chippewa, and Sokaogon Chippewa Tribal Nations.

“Substance abuse, particularly opioid abuse and methamphetamine use, is crippling our communities,” said Danielle Luther, substance abuse manager for the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach. “The positive news is that there are solutions. There is hope, and people do recover.”

Gov. Scott Walker created the Task Force on Opioid Abuse in September 2016 in response to the rising number of deaths from drug overdoses.

According to a public health advisory from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the number of fatal overdoses in the state is now greater than the number of deaths from car crashes, suicide, firearms, influenza, HIV, breast cancer or colon cancer.

Opioid-related overdose deaths went from 194 in 2003, to 622 in 2014 according to DHS. Pain relief products like oxycodone and methadone account for around half of all drug overdose deaths in Wisconsin; heroin contributes to about one third.

Anyone 19 or older as of Sept. 11, 2017, who has had at least one year of direct or indirect experience with recovery from a substance abuse disorder is able to be a MCHS Recovery Corps member.

Team members will be taught AmeriCorps practices, and will receive more recovery-oriented programming through the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery model, a training system developed in 2008.

To be a coach, members must commit to 1,700 hours of service over about a year. Their living expenses are paid, and they can be eligible for education awards as well.

“AmeriCorps members have served the northwoods in a number of capacities for many years,” said Brian Blahnik, AmeriCorps manager. “The community is faced with a challenge and AmeriCorps will be here to serve and help those who are affected by substance abuse.”

See more details and apply to be a recovery coach here:

–By Alex Moe