‘Sober Green Bay’ campaign hopes to target substance abuse issues in the community

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — For several years in a row, Green Bay has been included on a list of the drunkest cities in America.

“The top five are always in Wisconsin, and Green Bay has been in the top five since the stats started taking place,” John Plageman, an Information Assistant Specialist with the ADRC, told Local 5 Tuesday.

That consistent top-five placement is based upon staggering statistics.

“Green Bay has 28-percent of its population as binge drinkers,” Plageman said, “so that’s almost one in three.”

Those numbers, according to Plageman, come as a consequence of drinking being woven into Wisconsin’s culture.

“We have our Friday night fish fries, we have our Saturday supper clubs,” he said. “I was born and raised in Wisconsin, I know the Wisconsin traditions. I was a part of that when I drank for 20 years.”

Those traditions can alienate people who decide to stop drinking.

“When I first got sober, I thought I was gonna be alone,” Plageman said. “I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go to my fun social events. I didn’t think I’d be able to go to a Packer game.”

To help combat those fears, the Sober Green Bay campaign is stickering the city.

The group is reaching out to businesses and organizations, and offering up the chance to learn about becoming a ‘Sober Friendly Environment.’

If a business watches the presentation and decides to commit to supporting sobriety, “They get a balloon sticker that they can stick outside their door to let people know that this is a sober friendly place,” Plageman said.

The group has distributed a few of the stickers so far, but they have big plans for the program.

“We want to meet with agencies, we’d like to meet with businesses, we want to meet with restaurants, we even want to eat with bars,” Plageman said.

Participating locations will also be supplied cards that information on resources available in the community to help out those struggling with sobriety, or hoping to learn more.

“It’s extremely important for the resources to get out, that way people are able to see that there is stuff in the community for people in recovery,” Natoshia Wawiorka, a Substance Abuse Counselor and Recovery Housing Coordinator for the Jackie Nitschke Center said.

Plageman hopes the program helps anyone struggling with substance abuse realize they’re not alone.

“There might be some people out there who go, ‘you know what, I don’t need to live this lifestyle anymore, but I have no, I just don’t know where to start,'” he said. “This is the campaign that we want to bring to them.”


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