The N.E.W. Addiction: History of the opioid crisis in Northeast Wisconsin

Everywhere you look, there are stories about the devastating effects of opioids. Experts call the issue an epidemic, and solutions do not come easily. (Original News Video @ WLUK)

At FOX 11, our team is taking a closer look at opioids as The N.E.W. Addiction, with N.E.W. standing for Northeast Wisconsin.

Our state has certainly felt the sometimes fatal impact of opioids. Experts say one in three homes will deal with the problem. Ninety percent of those who struggle with addiction start using young, before the age of 18.

Opioids come in many different forms.

But they all have an addictive quality, making them dangerous, even deadly.

“The mistakes and the choices that I made, deep in my addiction, are things that I never thought I would do,” said Nadine Machkovech, a recovering addict.

When Machovech was a teenager, she was caught deep in a web of alcohol and drugs.

“The bridges that I burned, the hearts that I broke,” she said. “The people that I betrayed, and lied, stole and cheated on — it was such a horrible place for me to the point where I didn’t even want to look in the mirror anymore.”

She is now sober, and she shares her story with others.

“I think it’s really important to talk about the effects of addiction and where it leads to, but really where is it stemming from, and why are people using in the first place,” said Machovech.

In Wisconsin, between 2014 and 2017, more people died from opioid overdoses than were killed in vehicle crashes. According to state officials, the number of deaths have been steadily going up for years. In 2010, there were about 400 deaths. In 2017, the number jumped to more than 900.

Addiction counselors say getting off of the drugs is difficult because the addicts feel so bad and sick when they are not on the drugs.

“And it becomes this vicious cycle that, they might have started using to get a high. That they’re no longer feeling high, they now use to just function, which is the nature of the progression of addiction,” said Tina Marie Baeten, an addiction counselor.

For Machkovech, part of the solution to this problem has to include education.

“If you don’t have the right education, knowledge or awareness on how to use those prescription pills, I think people don’t understand how addictive it can be and can quickly get out of control so fast,” said Machkovech.

At FOX 11, we believe this issue is important. That’s why our team is working on a series of reports on the opioid crisis. They’ll offer perspective from experts, thoughts from those directly affected by addiction, and explore possible solutions. Watch for stories on The N.E.W. Addiction throughout the summer. And check out the special section at fox11online.com.

The reports on the opioid crisis will air on FOX 11 News at Nine Wednesdays and Sundays.

Find a treatment center
Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the federal SAMHSA website.
Questions about addiction or treatment?
Read the FAQ from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
What to do with unused medications?
Common signs of drug abuse
• You’re neglecting your responsibilities at work, school or home because of your drug use.
• You’re using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high, such as driving while on drugs.
Your drug use is getting you into legal trouble, such as stealing to support a drug habit.
• Your drug use is causing problems in your relationships, such as arguments with your partner or family members and loss of friends.
Source: Wisconsin Dose of Reality website
Common signs of drug addiction
• You’ve built up a drug tolerance, meaning you need more of the drug to experience the same effects.
• You take drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms.
• You’ve stopped participating in activities you once enjoyed.
• You continue to use drugs even when you realize they could be causing problems.
• Your life revolves around drug use.
Source: Wisconsin Dose of Reality website

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