Rising together against heroin

Weyauwega police make a drug arrest just about every night.

“It just doesn’t stop. It’s constant. We’re doing what we need to do on the street,” said Police Chief Gerald Poltrock.

He said his department can enforce laws and do drug investigations in the community of about 2,000 people.

What is needed is for the community to be educated about prescription drug abuse and heroin use, Poltrock said.

“Everyone needs to know it’s a problem,” he said. “We have to solve it together.”

On Nov. 7, more than 100 people from throughout Waupaca County met in Manawa to begin doing so.

Members of the Weyauwega Police Department and representatives from Weyauwega-Fremont School District were among those who attended the heroin summit.

“You see it on the news about heroin arrests. It’s here, too. People need to get that,” Poltrock told the Waupaca County Post.

About a week after the Nov. 7 summit, a conversation began taking place in Weyauwega about sponsoring a free presentation in the school district.

“The idea was to present it to the student body,” said Joann Miller, the district’s high school guidance counselor.

Rise Together, the advocacy group that was part of the heroin summit in Manawa, will give three presentations Wednesday, Dec. 17.

The first one, from 9-11 a.m., will be for the district’s middle school students.

Students from three area parochial schools are also invited.

The second presentation will be for the district’s high school students and will take place from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Both presentations will be age appropriate.

In addition, there will be a presentation for the public, from 6-8 p.m.

Those unable to attend the evening session may attend the afternoon one and are asked to show identification at the high school office to obtain a visitor’s pass.

The presentations are free.

“Resources will be available after the presentations for those who want to continue to talk,” said W-F District Administrator Scott Bleck.

Miller said the common theme during conversations with police officers is that heroin use is a problem.

“We thought the sooner we get that out, the better,” she said.

Rena Tomaszewski teaches physical education at W-F High School and is part of the team planning next week’s program.

She said many people are aware that prescription drugs abuse and heroin addiction are problems in the community but choose to turn a “blind eye to it. They don’t know the seriousness of it.”

Those who attended last month’s summit about the issue learned about the link between prescription drug abuse and heroin use.

They also learned that more than 75 percent of those who try heroin once will use it again.

That day, Anthony Alvarado and Douglas Darby shared their stories of long-term recovery.

They are the co-founders or Rise Together, a recovery advocacy group in Appleton that believes in prevention, education and community outreach.

Since starting the group in September of 2013, they have spoken to thousands of students throughout the state.

Rise Together is made up of recovering addicts, family members, friends, advocates and professionals.

They see themselves as faces and voices in recovery and want to combine prevention, intervention, treatment, advocacy and research and use their resources to make a dent in drug use.

Bleck said the school district is working with the police department to raise awareness.

“We’re taking a lead on being an advocate to communicate what’s happening in our greater community area,” he said.

They are encouraging area residents to attend the program.

“It’s definitely being heavily supported by the community,” Poltrock said of the businesses donating funds to cover its cost.

Individuals or businesses in the district and area communities interested in donating may send a check to the Weyauwega Police Department at P.O. Box 470, Weyauwega, WI 54983.

For more information about the upcoming presentation, call the school district at 920-867-8811.

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