MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) – Menasha is seeing a decrease in opioid-related death during a time where numbers in Winnebago County are rising and officials say their proactive approach to addiction could be a contributing factor.
Todd Vander Galien, the Executive Director of Unity Recovery Services said, “It’s not waiting for someone to be in crisis, waiting for someone to overdose and go reach out to them. We’re a little more proactive because of the community side of this program.”
Menasha Community Leaders are using the Menasha Community Addiction Assistance Program also known as MCAAP.
Together with coaches from Unity Recovery Services all city employees are trained to make contact with anyone that could be suffering from addiction before during or after a crisis and offer them recovery assistance.
“What we do is we have developed a couple recovery coach and peer support specialist teams that go out in our communities and work with individuals that and in and seeking recovery,” said Vander Galien
The team members at Unity Recovery Service call this “boots on the ground” work.
Jack Klein, is the Program Coordinator for MCAAP and he spends most of his day doing field work.
“We will literally go out and meet people where they’re at and through the referral process or the hotline,” said Klein. “And then through the conversation and asking questions try to come up with a plan for recovery or what resources or support, the level that they would need.”
Officers in the Menasha Police Department said the primary goal of the program is not to arrest the participants.
Nick Oleszak, the Community Liaison Officer for the Menasha Police Department said, “Over the last few decades it has become pretty clear that we can’t arrest our way out of addiction problems so we have to have a multitiered approach. Part of the approach is to get people into recovery and make those connections that they need.”
The coaches at Unity Recovery Program said removing the stigma around addiction is one of the most important things in getting people into recovery.
Klein said, “Has there ever been a person in your life that offered you hope and you clung onto that hope and you realize they were sent to you for a reason? That’s what was given to us, the peer support and recovery coaches within MCAAP and Unity Recovery Services, is somebody saw something in us that we couldn’t see and offered us that hope and unconditional love without expectation and got us thinking a little differently and got us to take that first step and say I need help.”