Brava Magazine Article “The Silent Treatment”

When Wisconsin women lead the nation in chronic drinking, why don’t we hear more about it? A look at the silence surrounding substance abuse, and the three local women working for change

Article Date:

July 1, 2011

By Meagan Parrish


Linda* says, describing the day that she—a successful professional and mother of two—walked haltingly through the doors of a rehab clinic to seek treatment for an addiction to alcohol.
She was far from home, literally, and even farther from the safe suburban existence where alcoholism was more associated with the homeless men hanging around the Capitol Square.
“You wonder, ‘How did I let myself get to this point?’” she admits.
By her early 40s, Linda had stitched together all the pieces of a full life: marriage, kids, career and a picture-perfect home. But when it began to unravel, a problem with alcohol quietly grew under the radar. Casual drinks with friends and nightly glasses of wine turned into a crutch.
“I was probably already drinking too much because I was pretty miserable in my marriage, but when I filed for divorce, it just got bad,” she recalls.
Soon, one or two drinks weren’t enough; she couldn’t stop herself from reaching for more. Eventually she would regularly drink until she blacked out. On the day Linda realized the problem had spiraled out of control, she started sipping wine at noon. The estimated number of glasses she downed that day? Between 15 and 20.
Her story is hardly unique. Though it’s tricky to pinpoint the precise number of women struggling with alcoholism—a progressive disease generally marked by the inability to stop oneself from consuming alcohol—indicators of overall use show that plenty of local women are putting themselves at risk.

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InBusiness Magazine article on Shelly Dutch

Connections Counseling: A chief executive heals herself

Article Date:

June 21, 2011

Shelly Dutch has come a long way in life, but she’d be the first to tell you she didn’t do it alone.

A recovering cocaine addict, Dutch knows better than most the importance of a support system, and so when she started Connections Counseling, an outpatient substance abuse and mental health clinic, in 2003, it was clear that it would be a commitment, not just a business.

“I’m in recovery myself, and that’s part of the reason I started this clinic,” said Dutch. “I needed someone to believe in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I was in my 20s when I went through this, and know that people, both the counseling staff and community support, is how I kept working on my life, and that’s the kind of direction we’ve gone here.”

Connections Counseling, which recently won a Dane County Small Business Award in the “woman-owned” category, employs a “strength-based” approach that relies on a caring, supportive environment “where growth is fostered and recovery becomes reality.”

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Connections Counseling receives Dane County Small Business Award

The Dane County Small Business Awards (DCSBA) is now in its 29th year. The DCSBA celebrate small businesses and the contributions they make to our communities and economy. The 2011 awards breakfast was held June 10, 2011 at the Sheraton Madison Hotel.

Connections Counseling was one of 10 Companies Recognized in 2011
Each year in early June, we recognize ten Dane County businesses that have excelled at meeting our award criteria. The award is given to the business, including all of the employees, not just the owners. We recognize the owner(s) have the vision and take the risk, but is the teamwork of all the employees that makes a successful company.


Award winning companies are honored at a breakfast program attended by an average of more than 250 people. In addition to recognizing the companies for their achievements, the awards breakfast has a keynote speaker, panel discussion or other informative and entertaining program. During the awards presentation each winner will share a life or business success tip with the audience. Each winning company receives an award that they will proud to display for their employees and customers.

WMTV – Heroin Fueling Crime

It's a drug fueling crime and killing kids, the addiction so powerful people will do anything to feed their habit.

"It's a long, dark, dark road."

At only 17 years old Amy is a recovering Heroin addict.

She says, "Eventually I was just like the gross junkies that I thought I would never be."

At 13-years-old the drinking and drugs started. The first time she did Oxycontin was at 16 on a school lunch break.

That led to heroin, a path an increasing number of Madison area teens are taking.

Amy says, "Just about anybody that I know from my old high school that is smoking weed and drinking, if you go up to them and ask if they have a connection to opiates they'd say yes and make a phone call."

One of the most dangerous opiates, heroin, has become a big problem for police.

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Felony drug charges being used to get overdose victims help

Article Date:


Dane County prosecutors are increasingly filing felony drug charges against people who have had drug overdoses.

2005: 9

2006: 4

2007: 1

2008: 3

2009: 11

2010: 24

Dane County Assistant District Attorney Ken Farmer calls it the "make them drink" philosophy.

But others wish it didn't take a felony drug possession charge - an increasingly popular tactic among prosecutors - to get overdose survivors into treatment.

In 2010, 23 people who suffered drug overdoses severe enough to be revived by paramedics or in emergency rooms were charged in Dane County with felony drug possession in connection with the overdose incidents, court records show. That's up from nine in 2005 and just one in 2007.

Prosecutors say the intention is to get overdose survivors into court-mandated drug treatment programs, not to get felony convictions.

But only 17 of the 51 people charged between 2005 and 2010 ended up in Dane County Drug Treatment Court, the records show, and 18 resulted in felony convictions. Many of the cases filed in 2010 are still working their way through the courts.

"If there was any other way to get them into treatment, we would do it," said Farmer, a longtime drug prosecutor. "But this is all we've got."


Use of opiates has grown

The number of felony cases involving overdose survivors has grown in recent years as the use of heroin and other opiates has grown in Dane County. All but seven of the 51 cases involved heroin overdoses.

"In order to get them into treatment we have to charge them to get them into drug court," Farmer said. "If you let the overdoses go, what happens is they get treatment on their own or they die. I didn't want to sit back and let that happen."

Of the 34 people charged but who didn't end up in drug court, a few were referred but didn't qualify. A few others either quit drug court or declined to participate. And a few more took part in the Dane County Day Report and Treatment (DART) program, a pre-adjudication jail diversion and treatment program.

Only two people convicted of the felonies ended up in prison, and in both cases it was after their probation had been revoked by the state Department of Corrections for committing other crimes.

Assistant Public Defender Dorothea Watson, who has represented three overdose survivors charged in the past two years, said the approach adds a layer - the criminal justice system - onto what is a treatment need.

"If there was any better way to deal with these people, if there was more treatment available in the community, we wouldn't have to use the criminal justice system," Watson said.

Contradictory messages

The policy has gotten mixed reviews among advocates who work with drug addicts.

Meghan Ralston, harm reduction coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, a national organization that has criticized the "war on drugs," said the Dane County practice sends contradictory messages to those who are charged.

"Number one, we've got compassion for you and we want to do the right thing and get treatment for you," Ralston said. "But also we're going to get you a felony conviction that's going to hang with you for the rest of your life."

Instead of involving courts and lawyers in the lives of overdose survivors, she said, medical personnel should be called in to address the problem.

Shelly Dutch, director of Connections Counseling, a Madison drug treatment program, agreed. But she said that getting treatment even for people for whom it is ordered by courts can be very difficult, between waiting lists and the cost.

"Punishment isn't enough," Dutch said. "It isn't even addressing the primary issue."

Mike Florek, president of Tellurian UCAN in Madison, said that sometimes for the families of opiate addicts, getting the legal system involved is the only way to deal with their volatile situations.

"I can't tell you how many times I've told parents to call the police," he said.

And likewise, he said, some recovering addicts have said that was the best thing that ever happened to them.


ED TRELEVEN | | 608-252-6134

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