Wisconsin has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and to combat the crisis, the Department of Corrections has created a program aimed at treating those suffering from addiction rather than incarcerating them.
15 people marked a successful year in the program Thursday with a graduation ceremony.
michael meulemans – program policy analyst, wisconsin doc
“These individuals have done a lot of work,” Michael Meulemans, a Program Policy Analyst with the Wisconsin DOC told Local Five. “They volunteered for the program, they’ve been mentally screened for the program, so we’re here to celebrate them.”
Tanya Gorges of New London is a mother of two, and says that this program has given her a chance to give her kids a better life.
“Being in active addiction, I really didn’t know how to be a mom,” she said, “and I really wanted to give them a life that I wanted them to have. I couldn’t do that where I was [a year ago] and I can now.”
Getting through the program is easier said than done.
Nicole Schueppert, who works with the Wisconsin DOC and personally helped counsel some of those who graduated the program Thursday says that these graduation ceremonies help put the impact of the program into perspective.
“We have people come through the program and they don’t always make it,” she said. “When they do it’s just a great reminder for us of why we do our jobs.”
This is the third graduation that the program has celebrated since its inception.
But the journey is not over for the graduates, as addiction is a lifelong battle.
“It’s really important for me to keep my commitments I’ve made,” Gorges said. “And one of them is to stay clean. Not just for my family and my kids but my friends and most importantly myself.”