Spring Newsletter

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The Director's Desk

March 2019

Here We Grow Again!

Elevate is poised for continued growth in 2019 as we work to address the opioid crisis and expand other programs at the request of our community partners in Washington, Waukesha and Sheboygan counties.

Elevate U, which was launched in 2018, serves high risk youth who are engaging in early substance use and/or failing to attend school on a regular basis.  Utilizing three research-based programs --Teen Intervene, Prime for Life and Check and Connect, we began serving the West Bend School District.  In 2019, we plan to expand this program to serve the Hartford Joint #1 School District. 

In 2016, we began providing limited prevention services in Waukesha County as a result of federal funding.  In 2018, we were able to expand research-based programming there and in Washington County through a Brighter Futures grant from the State of Wisconsin.  In 2019, we will increase services to Waukesha County students through an Urban Youth Prevention Grant from the State of Wisconsin.

The OWI Treatment and Diversion Program returned in 2018 thanks to support from the Washington County Board of Supervisors.  Because of the success we have seen through Diversion programming, we have secured support from all key stakeholders in piloting a Drug Treatment Court in Washington County.  We hope to secure federal funding for this beginning in September 2019.  In addition, we are working with partners to expand access to medication assisted treatment and case management services to individuals incarcerated at the Washington County jail. 

Support groups available to families with a loved one struggling with an addiction were also expanded in 2018.  We continue to promote these groups to engage more families in need and hope to add a fourth location in 2019.

We continue to provide services to clients with a serious mental health disorder, in conjunction with Washington County Human Services Department’s CCS program.

Finally, we are working to develop opportunities to expand the use of Peer Support Specialists for individuals with a substance use disorder. 

Please reach out to me if you need our assistance or have thoughts on other ways we can support you or others in the communities we serve.

At Elevate we’re not just changing lives … we’re saving lives.

Mary Simon
Executive Director

Vaping: a Cause for Concern

A 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that e-cigarette use increased 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students between 2017 and 2018.  Nationally approximately 1.5 million more students used e-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2017.

This use of e-cigarettes reverses a downward trend in cigarette use among youth which had fallen to all times lows with just a little more than 5% of all American teens reporting use cigarettes.

In 2017, according to the Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which was the first time students were asked about E-Cigarettes, 11.6% of high school students reported using electronic cigarettes within the last 30 days

In Washington County’s 2018 YRBS, 27.2% of High School Students reported using electronic vaping products within the past 30 days. A significant rise in just one year.

JUUL devices, a particular brand, have become one of the most popular versions of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or E-cigarettes.

  • JUUL devices heat up a cartridge containing “E-Juice” to create an aerosol, which quickly dissolves into the air.

  • These devices are small enough to fit in a closed fist

  • They have a sleek, tech-inspired design that resembles a USB flash drive.

  • They come in flavors — including mint, mango and Crème brûlée

  • They come with customizable “wraps” or skins” featuring different colors and patterns which add to the device’s concealability.

  • ALL JUUL devices contain nicotine.  There are no nicotine free options.

The cost of Electronic cigarettes is much lower than for regular cigarettes. Costs can vary widely, depending on the brand and state cigarette taxes, but these products are much cheaper than traditional tobacco products making use of these devices affordable for youth.

Just like any health topic, E-Cigarettes are widely debated as to whether or not they are better or worse than traditional cigarettes from a health perspective. Some claims might convince youth that E-cigarette use is ok.

These claims include that E-cigarettes:

  • Have fewer toxins and cancer causing agents

  • Are less harmful than cigarettes

  • Help Smokers Quit

  • Have little to no nicotine

We know better.  E-cigarette use in any form is UNSAFE for youth.   

Nicotine is delivered up to 2.7 times faster in JUULs than through other E-cigarettes.

We also know that because there is less throat irritation with JUUL products, a young person could easily go through one cartridge a day, which increases the potential for youth addiction given that one JUUL is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes.

Exposure to nicotine among youth is particularly dangerous, as it has been shown to have an effect on key brain receptors, making young people more susceptible to nicotine addiction. There is some evidence that suggests the effect of nicotine on developing brains may result in greater vulnerability to addiction to other drugs as well.

Most people’s brains are not fully developed until the age of 25, so youth and young adults are uniquely at risk for long-term, long-lasting effects of exposing their developing brains to nicotine. These risks include mood disorders, and permanent lowering of impulse control. Nicotine also changes the way synapses are formed, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

Researchers have also identified at least 60 chemical compounds in e-liquids and the aerosol that is created.

In Washington County Elevate conducts tobacco compliance checks of all gas stations, grocery stores and vape shops to ensure they are complying with the law and not selling electronic cigarettes to minors. These checks are mandated by the State through the Wisconsin WINS program.


Medication Assisted treatment Program Launches in Washington County

Elevate, in collaboration with other Washington County agencies, recently launched a pilot program to provide Medication Assisted treatment (MAT)  in the form of nonnarcotic, non-addictive, injectable naltrexone, case management, as well as AODA and other treatment services, to clients prior to and after their release from jail.

The goal of the MAT program is to assist clients in abstaining from substance use while engaging in treatment and other services in the community and to support their initial journey of recovery. By providing MAT and other services before and after their release, clients will have a higher likelihood of maintaining sobriety, stabilizing in the community and avoiding overdose or re-arrest.

This pilot program, funded through a short-term grant through the State of Wisconsin, will be offered through June 2019 with the goal of extending the program through additional state funding. Organizers expect to serve up to ten individuals at any given time during this pilot program. 

Currently there is no AODA discharge planning for clients leaving the jail, which means those with a substance use disorder who may have entered jail actively using and or in withdrawal, are more likely to return to substance use without intervention upon release. We know that when individuals who have been using daily have a period of sobriety, treatment or incarceration, and then return to use using the same amount they were before, risk for overdose increases. This threat becomes more likely without coordinated services including MAT.

Providing Vivitrol prior to release, in conjunction with therapy and case management, increases the likelihood that they will stay sober and engage in services to continue treatment. 

As part of the MAT program, clients will meet with a case manager and therapist in jail prior to their release. This therapist will work on building a relationship with the client to follow through with treatment after the client's release.

The case manager will coordinate services for the client before and after their release from jail. The client will receive their first Vivitrol injection prior to release from jail and then follow through with MAT appointments at Washington County Human Services Department, or the Albrecht Free Clinic if they are uninsured. Clients will also follow through with treatment at Professional Services Group and continue to meet with their case manager at Elevate.

The MAT program will be available to these individuals for at least three months after their release from jail. Case managers will assist them to follow through with services to address their medical, mental health, psychiatric, housing, employment, financial/resource management, and other needs. 

MAT community partners include Elevate, the Washington County Human Services Department, the Washington County Jail / Sheriff's Department, the Department of Corrections, Professional Services Group and the Albrecht Free Clinic.


Elevate to Honor Judge Martens At Annual Dinner in May

The Honorable Judge Todd K. Martens will receive the “Elevate Our Mission” Award at this year’s Annual Dinner on Wednesday, May 15, at Terrace 167 in Richfield.  Judge Martens will be recognized for his ongoing leadership in the creation and implementation of diversion programming in Washington County.  Martens has also been a strong advocate for the implementation of a Drug Treatment Court in the county, which we hope will become a reality within the year. All of these programs are creative responses to addressing the opioid epidemic.  They benefit not only the individuals struggling with addiction, but also provide cost savings to taxpayers..

Martens, appointed as Circuit Court Judge in Washington County in 2010, was elected to that position in 2011.  He previously served as the Washington County District Attorney from 1999 - 2010, Deputy District Attorney, Washington County in 1999 and Assistant District Attorney, Washington County from 1991-98.  Martens worked in private practice from 1988-91.

Judge Martens will be the first recipient of the Elevate Our Mission Award.

Washington County currently offers two diversion programs, an OWI and an Opioid program.  Both support individuals who, because of a substance use disorder, have become involved in the criminal justice system. Both programs emphasize the importance of engaging in a treatment process and developing a sober lifestyle in addition to taking personal accountability and committing to program requirements.

These diversion programs were developed and are now overseen by a group of professionals in Washington County including: Elevate, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the Washington County Human Services Department, the Department of Corrections, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and Circuit Court Judges, as well as other community treatment providers and nonprofits.

Both programs are open to residents of Washington County who have been charged with a drug or alcohol related criminal offense in Washington County.

While each program is slightly different, both programs require that clients:

  • Maintain absolute sobriety.

  • Engage in the recommended AODA treatment.

  • Participate in frequent alcohol and drug testing.

  • Attend individual appointments with their case manager and work on attaining goals supportive of maintained sobriety in a Diversion Case Plan.

Our experience demonstrates that a strong support system, the proper treatment, and coordination of services across multiple systems, assists clients in making long-term behavior change supportive of a sober lifestyle.