Summer Newsletter

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The Director's Desk

August 2019

Growth in Programs Motivate Elevate Leadership to Explore Facility Options

Over the course of the past five years, Elevate has experienced tremendous growth in programs and services as well as in staffing.  Since its inception as Elevate in 2014, when Nova Services and the Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse of Washington County merged, we have grown to a staff of approximately 50, serving three counties, including Washington, Waukesha and Sheboygan.

In Washington County, where our central office is located, we have outgrown our facility to the extent that some staff has been displaced to temporary sites. We hope that these office arrangements are short-lived as they present additional challenges for the agency.

The majority of growth has been in our intervention services in Washington County — services which have been foundational to addressing the heroin epidemic there.  Heroin use, while showing some signs of leveling off, is still abused at crisis levels in Washington County. As a nonprofit, we are still being called to support those individuals and families who continue to struggle.  

Historically we know that people will move on from Heroin to another substance, just as they did from marijuana, to cocaine, to other drugs over time.  The bottom line is that addiction, the root cause of the use of any of these substances, will remain an issue for many people and for the communities we serve and we will continue to have to respond.

Elevate’s Board of Directors has formed a facilities committee to study the needs of the agency now and into the future, taking into consideration not only our own needs, but also those of the community.

Several options are currently under consideration and include the sale of our current building in Jackson and the purchase of a new office space elsewhere in Washington County.  The committee is also exploring existing office space within the county, adding on to our offices in Jackson, as well as the possibility of building a new structure.

Please reach out to me if you have thoughts about options to help us respond to our current and future facility needs.  Our top priority is to find a solution that is fiscally and socially responsible so that we can provide the best client care possible with the best outcomes for all.

At Elevate we don’t just change lives … we save lives.

Mary Simon
Executive Director

Co-Occurring Disorders: Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

The recognition that mental illness and addiction are very often co-occurring disorders was foundational to the decision to merge Nova Services and The Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse of Washington County in 2015 when Elevate was founded.  Since then, our mission has focused on providing programs and services to meet the needs of individuals and families through Calm Harbor, our mental health crisis stabilization residence, as well as through our other AODA intervention programming

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), more than nine million people in the United States suffer from co-occurring disorders.

Contributing factors to co-occurring conditions include:

  • Heredity.  Genetic make up may make some people more susceptible to mental health disorders.

  • Brain Development.  Substance use while the brain is still developing, for instance during adolescence, increases the risk of having a dual diagnosis later in life.

  • Stress or Trauma. Experiencing a traumatic event such as losing a loved one or as the result of physical or sexual abuse.

  • Neurological Factors. Mental instability can lead to substance abuse.

One of the most common occurrences for people with a mental illness is to “medicate” their mental health symptoms by using alcohol or drugs. For example, people who suffer from depression may use marijuana to mask their pain, or those who suffer from a social anxiety may abuse alcohol to fit in or feel more at ease. Drugs or alcohol don’t address the underlying mental health issue and may even exacerbate the illness.

When there are co-occuring disorders, it’s important that both be addressed at the same time because treatment for one or the other may make treatment ineffective.

For more information about co-occurring disorders of mental illness and substance abuse, please investigate the following resources:


Vote for the Washington County Heroin Task Force TODAY!

The Heroin Task Force of Washington County has been nominated for the Wisconsin Voices for Recovery Community Award.

The award, developed by Wisconsin Voices of Recovery, honors individuals or organizations that make significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents and dedication.

You can vote for The Heroin Task Force of Washington County here:

The task force, which grew out of the Washington County Prevention Network's work, was launched in February 2014 in response to the growing problem of prescription pain medication and heroin abuse in Washington County. A collaborative prevention effort to educate community members including law enforcement, elected officials, health care professionals, county agencies and community members soon began to identify and understand common problems and applicable resources.

Over time, the Task Force identified four specific target areas, and has since worked since to develop and implement actions calculated to reduce prescription drug misuse, heroin abuse and overdose in Washington County.

Delilah’s Mom

Geena struggled with substance abuse and addiction for ten years. Beginning in high school and continuing through early adulthood, she could not shake the addiction on her own. Having the support of case managers through Elevate's year-long Treatment and Diversion program was one thing that helped her find and sustain recovery. She gave birth to her healthy baby girl, Delilah, just days before her graduation from the year-long TAD program.

In this video, Geena shares snippets of her struggles and the triumph of bringing a healthy baby into the world.

During a recent check in with Geena, we learned she is enrolled in college and will start classes in September!