Drug addiction is an issue that has long plagued Northwestern Wisconsin. Addiction ruins careers, tears apart families, and can even take lives entirely. The COVID-19 pandemic made addiction treatment more complicated, with the region seeing an increase in relapse rates and drug abuse entirely.
Luckily, there are ways addicts can get the help they need. I recently toured the Eau Claire Comprehensive Treatment center, which provides peer supported diversion programs, including life-saving medication assisted treatment (MAT). They are the front-line fight against addiction, and work every day to combat the drug epidemic to save lives.
MAT treats addiction using medicine in combination with counseling and other whole-patient approaches. There are three commonly used medications, so treatment programs are tailored to have the best possible outcome.
The patients who are treated through these treatment centers show real progress every single day. MAT patients are 75% less likely to have an addiction-related death, are more likely to be employed, and are less likely to commit a crime than those who do not receive MAT.
Sitting as vice-chair on the Assembly Committee on Substance Abuse and Prevention has given me the microphone to advocate for treatment centers like this. Currently, the closest MAT center is in Eau Claire. This poses difficulties for local patients who have to commute hours every day. I support more treatment centers across the state, especially in Northwestern Wisconsin.