Subscribe | E-Editions | River News 75Ę | Super Shopper - FREE | About Us | Contact Us | FREE Classified Ė Items Under $50
The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Flanders Realty Group

home : news : county/state news
November 20, 2019

Delaney fitzpatrick/lakeland times

Lori Bergum, a spokesperson from Vilas County Youth Coalition, demonstrates how teenagers find creative ways to hide illicit substances, such as within a deodorant tube.
Delaney fitzpatrick/lakeland times

Lori Bergum, a spokesperson from Vilas County Youth Coalition, demonstrates how teenagers find creative ways to hide illicit substances, such as within a deodorant tube.
10/1/2019 7:30:00 AM
Vilas County hosts presentation on drug endangered children
Delaney Fitzpatrick
Of the Lakeland Times

Representatives from the Human Service Center and Vilas County Youth Coalition gave a presentation on drug endangered children during the Sept. 24 Vilas County Board of Supervisors meeting and afterward board members and the public were invited to view a related documentary as well as explore an interactive exhibit.

A community-wide problem

Roberta Marcus and Heather Michaelson appeared before the board to discuss their multi-faceted responsibilities as counselors for the Human Service Center. Marcus serves as a substance abuse counselor for adolescents to adults and works with the court system, probation officers and social services in Forest, Vilas, and Oneida counties. Meanwhile, Michaelson works in the Behavioral Health Department, providing Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) counseling as well as mental health counseling.

The road from addiction to sobriety is a difficult one and Marcus made it clear that counseling is critical in ensuring people not only get healthy, but stay healthy.

"Getting clean and sober is long term work," she said. "It takes a few years to get to a good place."

According to Marcus, the rise in opioid and heroin abuse in Wisconsin has reached a critical point.

"It's not getting better. It's been a problem for 30 years," Marcus said. "It's continuing to get worse and maybe it's becoming more noticeable."

Michaelson said it's crucial to remember the drug crisis affects more than just those actively using, explaining that people, especially children, can experience trauma as the result of a loved one having an addiction. Many of her clients, 12 years old and younger, are neglected by a drug-addicted parent.

What's worse is that some of her child clients are users of drugs or alcohol themselves. She revealed that her youngest client started drinking alcohol at age 6.

"It was normal. It was a family tradition," she said. "They didn't realize it was going to be something that killed them."

Marcus and Michaelson both said the answer to the crisis lies within the community, but there is a constant shortage of funding and counselors for local drug abuse treatment. Michaelson said the need in the Northwoods is great, projecting that 230 Vilas County residents would use the Human Service Center's AODA services in 2019.

"That's a significant number of people," she said.

These statistics and the counselor's personal stories made it quite clear the alarming national drug crisis is hitting close to home.

One local story

After the meeting, board members were invited to join the public for a viewing of "Written Off," a documentary about Matt Edwards, a young man from Eagle River who developed an addiction to opioids as a teenager. Edwards received little treatment, eventually dying of an overdose at the age of 25.

The film chronicles Matt's downward spiral into addiction and depression through his fastidious journal entries. It is another important reminder that the opioid epidemic directly impacts the Northwoods.

'Hidden in Plain Sight'

In addition to the screening, the Vilas County Youth Coalition and UW-Extension set up an interactive exhibit called, "Hidden in Plain Sight." The exhibit is a mock setup of a teenager's bedroom and helps parents understand the unexpected ways today's teenagers may be hiding their drug use.

Lori Bergum and Sharon Krause demonstrated a full walkthrough of the exhibit, explaining how substances can be hidden in everyday items like Sharpies and deodorant tubes, as well as specific items such as Honey Pockets, which are small silicone pockets that can hide odor.

Much of the exhibit focused on marijuana use, which the CDC reports about half of 9-12 graders have tried. The two spokeswomen offered insight about what parents should keep an eye out for regarding drug paraphernalia like the "420" code or marijuana leaves on clothing.

Bergum and Krause explained many teens have joined the vaping bandwagon, which has made national news recently as data has begun to surface regarding its health risks.

Bergum explained that even though the legal age to buy and smoke tobacco is 18, it's very easy for underage kids to get their hands on vaping pens and pods.

"What's happening is 18-year-olds are buying the vaping stuff and then selling it at a profit to younger kids," Bergum said. "Also younger kids will buy gift cards at Walgreens or Target or Walmart and they use the Visa card to buy stuff online."

Krause, who works with the Vilas County Teen Court, said 90% of the current cases she sees are vaping-related.

Whether it be counseling or awareness, it's evident Vilas County has work to do in informing citizens about resources available to the community.

As Michaelson explained to the county board, "Addiction is a family disease" and last week's "Drug Endangered Children" presentation was a powerful reminder of that fact.

Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, and meet the comment guidelines (see "Comment Guidelines" at right). There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search
search sponsored by

Subscription Login

Today's Circulars
Print-N-Save Coupons
Order photo reprints

Advertising Information

Community Connections
Submit to Newspaper...

Ced Vig's books for sale
Kris Gilbertson's 'I Recall...'

Relay for Life

Reader Poll

Do you agree with the School District of Rhinelanderís decision to dismiss football coach Chris Ferge?

Please select one:
I have no opinion.

View Results
Reader Poll

Which of the following best describes your reaction to the Republicans move to curtail the power of Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul?

Please select one:
I have no issue with it. Itís a normal part of todayís politics.
Itís unconscionable, but Iím confidant the courts will overturn the bills.
Iím OK with it as long as both parties are allowed to do it.
I have no opinion on this question.

View Results
Reader Poll

Which City of Rhinelander elected officials should be recalled?

Please select one:
All of them. The mayor and the entire Common Council.
I would recall the council but keep the mayor.
I would recall the mayor but keep the council.
Everyone but alderman Emmer, as he was just appointed.
Frederickson, Sauer, Holt, Rossing and Larson.
Rog, Kirby and Kelly.

View Results
Reader Poll

Do you support so-called red flag bills which would allow judges to seize people's firearms for up to a year if they pose a threat to themselves or others?

Please select one:
I donít know enough about red flag bills to offer an opinion.
I have no opinion on this question.

View Results
Reader Poll

In light of the city's recent update on well testing, which of the following best describes your thoughts regarding use/consumption of city water?

Please select one:
I feel completely confident in allowing my family to consume the water.
The latest results are somewhat reassuring but I still have concerns.
I remain very concerned about the safety of the city's water.
I'm still not sure what to think about the water.
I have no opinion on this question.

View Results

Facebook | All Things | Wisconsin Lottery | The Lakeland Times - affiliate | Winter Road Conditions | Snow/Trail Conditions

The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC
232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361

Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121
Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce

Site Design and Content | Copyright 2019 1up!

Software © 1998-2019 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved