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Category: Recovery Coaching

2024 Battle of the Badges

Join us on March 16th, 2024 beginning at 2:00 pm at Madison Ice Arena for the annual Battle of the Badges fundraiser! Admission is $5 and free for children 3 and under. Community Skate from 2:15-3:45 pm, Military All-Star Hockey Game at 4:30 pm, Fire vs Police Showcase Hockey Game beginning at 6 pm. Food, beer, 50/50 raffle, chuck-a-duck, and more available! We can’t wait to see you there!


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In treatment instead of in jail. Local initiative aims to help people fighting addiction

This article originally appeared on and can be found here.

By Brady Mallory  |  Fox47 News Madison

MAIDSON, Wis (Fox47) — Imagine a dinner table with an empty chair. Then think about the loved one who is not in that chair because he or she died from a drug overdose. That’s the reality for tens of thousands of families in the U.S., and it’s getting worse. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, fentanyl overdose deaths grew in Wisconsin from 651 in 2019 to 1,280 last year. That’s a 97-percent jump. Local police are seeing similar growth in fentanyl overdoses in Dane County. That’s why a local group is giving certain people, who struggle with addiction, some alternatives for help that don’t involve being treated like a criminal.

You never know how many people are walking around, carrying the weight of addiction.

“It’s just crept into areas of our community at an unprecedented level at this point,” Officer Tom Coyne, addiction resource officer with the Madison Police Department, said.

Coyne says Dane County is seeing a spike in overdoses. The main reason? Drugs secretly laced with fentanyl.

“We say all substances have fentanyl in them these days. There’s no real safe product to use anymore,” Seth Sanders, community paramedic for the Madison Fire Department, said.

Here’s a group that wants to help. You’ll find Coyne, Sanders, and a few others in a black mini van, hoping to make a huge difference. They are members of the Madison Area Addiction Recovery Initiative; MAARI. It’s a group that responds to people who are overdosing or survive overdoses. They come with life-saving equipment and Narcan, but they also offer individuals a second chance.

“Active addiction, substance use disorder is not a problem you can arrest away,” Coyne said.

Instead of facing criminal charges for overdosing or a drug offense, MAARI connects Dane County residents with treatment options and support. There’s a catch; any offense has to be a low level, non-violent crime.

“Charges are held, people are plugged in with recovery support in the community for six months and sometimes forward. Once they’ve successfully completed the program, charges go no further,” Coyne said.

“I’ve had a lot of friends and close family members suffer from addiction,” Joel Grunder, a peer support specialist and recovery coach, said.

Grunder says getting people in treatment instead of in jail can help them stay on a path to recovery and reduce relapses, and deadly overdoses.

“There’s no replacement for those we’ve lost,” Grunder said.

You never know who is walking around, carrying the weight of addiction. Members hope MAARI helps end the stigma, and allow individuals to step forward.

“It’s a disease and they need help with that. They deserve that help. If someone had cancer, we would help them with that sickness,” Seth Sanders said.

“This to me, legitimately feels like you’re there on the frontlines of helping people,” Coyne said.

The MAARI program began in September 2020. It is a three year grant-funded program. According to MPD, MAARI builds upon the successes of a previous pre-arrest program.


Dane County Approves $750,000 Emergency Initiative to Address Opiate & Fentanyl Epidemics

From the Office of Joe Parisi, Dane County Executive, November 18, 2022

The Harm Reduction and Prevention Act, a roughly $750,000 initiative to address opiate and fentanyl related emergencies, will soon infuse much needed supports into the Dane County community, County Executive Parisi announced today. A resolution to fund the legislative package, which includes school prevention and harm reduction curriculum, was approved at last night’s Dane County Board meeting.

“In Dane County, more residents are dying of drug poisoning than ever before. Just one pill laced with fentanyl or another synthetic opiate can take the life of a friend or loved one,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Our community must act. The Harm Reduction and Prevention Act builds upon our partnerships and invests hundreds of thousands of dollars into the community to distribute fentanyl testing strips, along with Narcan kits, and increase awareness about these deadly epidemics.”

Deaths involving opiates and fentanyl have steadily increased in Dane County since 2016. In 2021, 149 people in Dane County passed away due to opiate related overdoses—reflecting 86% of all overdose deaths in the county. Opiate related deaths have increased more than 30% in the past five years. Meanwhile, overdose deaths involving fentanyl are up close to 70% in that same timeframe. Fentanyl was determined to be a contributing factor in over three quarters of the county’s overdose deaths in 2021.

In recognition of the continued scourge of opiates and fentanyl in the Dane County community and the harm they continue to cause families, this initiative will:

  • In partnership with Safe Communities and Dane County school districts, pilot developmentally appropriate prevention and harm reduction curriculum through Life Skills and Safety First programing to better serve elementary though high school students. Using an evidence-based approach, Safe Communities will partner with local schools on debuting the new education courses, which focus on building resiliency, identifying risk, being safe, etc. and include interactive modules for older students.
  • Increase awareness and community education about the dangers of fentanyl and opiates.
  • Partner with community organizations to provide widespread distribution of Narcan and fentanyl test strips.
  • Create a dedicated prevention specialist position within the Dane County Department of Emergency Management to oversee the development of a Narcan “leave behind” program where EMS agencies can leave Narcan rescue kits at the scenes of overdoses.
  • In partnership with Safe Communities, embed Dane County Recovery Coaches within local hospitals and potentially the Dane County 911 Center to reduce the time between when an overdose occurs and when an individual first makes contact with a professional who can help them begin the path of addiction treatment/recovery.
  • Create a prevention coordinator at the OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center to serve as a direct liaison to a number of communities, providing more awareness and prevention services to populations disproportionately impacted by overdoses/fentanyl poisoning.

This initiative totals around $750,000 and is in addition to the approximately $1.6 million Dane County currently allocates in opiate settlement funding for opiate treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts.

As part of the Harm Reduction and Prevention Act, Dane County will invest $159,900 in media and community outreach efforts. The following groups will receive funding to provide med lock boxes, Narcan, and/or fentanyl test strips: African American Opioid Coalition ($100,000), Pride in Prevention Coalition ($50,000), Recovery Coalition of Dane County ($10,000), Dane County Senior Focal Points ($15,000), and various housing providers ($10,000). $120,000 will also be allocated for school life skills/harm reduction curriculum.

A second portion of the Dane County Harm Reduction and Prevention Act—totaling $283,500—will be funded in the County Executive’s 2023 budget. Of that total, $115,000 will go to create a Prevention Coordinator position at the OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center. Approximately $110,000 will establish a prevention specialist position within the Dane County Department of Emergency Management. This individual will work with local EMS agencies on opiate and fentanyl response initiatives in the coming years. $10,000 will go to the Narcan “leave behind” program, while an additional $40,000 will go to school life skills/harm reduction curriculum next year.

SSM Health’s ED2Recovery program faces rising overdoses due to Fentanyl

This article originally appeared on and can be found here.
Colton Molesky | WMTV-Madison

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – An SSM Health St. Mary’s program is continuing to battle addiction and overdoses in the face of rising numbers due to the prevalence of Fentanyl in Wisconsin. The SSM Health’s ED2Recovery program partners with Safe Communities and works to give people who are suffering from addiction all the tools to fight back.

“It’s continued to be a significant issue for us; it’s many fentanyl and heroin at this point,” said SSM Health ED medical director Dr. Kyle Martin. “It’s just kind of a vicious cycle.”

According to a recent report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 91% of opioid overdose deaths were attributed to Fentanyl, as were 73% of all overdose deaths. From 2019 to 2021, overdose deaths increased by 97% in Wisconsin. It is those numbers the program is battling, starting treatment right at the bedside in the emergency department.


“That allows them to form a close relationship, and that continues on after they’ve left the emergency department; the recovery coach stays on and keeps in touch with them and connects them to various resources in the community,” said Dr. Martin.

Because of the growing Fentanyl crisis, recovery coaches say there is even more pressure to help people struggling with addiction battle the disease before the worst happens.

“You might not get it on the second, third, or fourth time, but with this drug out here, it might be limiting your chances,” said recovery coach Tyrees Scott.

DPP peer provider team manager Tanya Kraege says the advantage the program has is the life experience of the coaches. The recovery coaches have battled addiction themselves, now turning around and showing others the route out.

“Lived experience is their superpower,” said Kraege. “Having somebody show up and say, ‘I’ve been there, I know what it’s like to struggle, I’m here to walk with you,’ there’s just some relief automatically in the eyes of that person.”

Kraege says the program currently serves 312 people. Despite the rising challenges, she says the success rate is 80%. Kraege explains the program measures success by the life goals accomplished while fighting substance abuse.

September is National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month

In honor of those we’ve lost, National Recovery Month is meant to find hope in the reality that recovery from substance use and mental health disorders happens. Recovery benefits everyone – families, friends, employers, neighborhoods – as well as the person in recovery.

This September marks the 33rd annual National Recovery Month to celebrate the gains made by those in recovery – just as we celebrate improvements made by people with other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.  But unlike those conditions, people living with mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders often face shame and stigma.

Please join us for these locally-sponsored National Recovery Month events:


Stories of Gratitude: Conversations with Helping Professionals Who’ve Fostered Recovery

Premiering on
September 9, 2022

Join us to hear how professionals showing kindness and concern can make all the difference to people struggling with addiction.  During this series of conversations between people in recovery and the professionals who helped them get there, you’ll witness the impact a helping professional can have in a person’s life. These moving videos could be used during staff trainings to combat the ‘compassion fatigue’ hospital emergency room staff, paramedics and law enforcement are experiencing, with overdose deaths at an all time high. Thanks to American Family Institute for making this series possible.

Purple Lights for Recovery
Show your support for those in recovery by lighting your business, organization or home in purple lights.

Click here by August 15th to reserve your purple light. Arrange to pick up your light at International Overdose Awareness Day event on August 31st, or at Safe Communities’ office Monday – Friday 9 AM – 4 PM. Questions? Contact Safe Communities at, (608) 441-3060

Rally for Recovery and Resource Fair
Hosted by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery
September 10th
Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison
visit Wisconsin Voices for Recovery website for details

Viewing of Tipping the Pain Scale movie and Call to Action to Pass a Good Samaritan Law in Wisconsin
Hosted by Wisconsin Recovery Advocacy Project

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Marcus Theaters Ultra Point Cinema
7:30 PM
Purchase tickets at

Peers in the Park

Peers in the Park Events

Struggling with addiction and looking for help and support? Join us if you’d like to talk to a recovery coach, learn about resources available to you, and be in the company of people who will walk beside you without judgment.

The Recovery Coaches you’ll meet at Peers in the Park are in long term recovery and have received special training to help you on your path, whatever that looks like. Recovery coaches do not take the place of a therapist or sponsor. Our coaches have lived experienced — they can relate to what you’re going through.

At these Peers in the Park events, Safe Communities Recovery Coaches will host a cookout picnic (free), distribute naloxone and fentanyl test strips and be on-hand to listen and help:

Wednesdays, 4-7 PM
June 29 Kick-off at James Madison Park Shelter. Please join us!
July 13 Tenney Park
July 27 Brittingham Park
August 10 Hiestand Park
Aug 24 Penn Park
Sept 7 Demetral Park



Heroin Addicts Talk of Life with Inner Demons

By Kevin Passon

Jewel Adams knows what it’s like to be in the grips of a monster.

“The disease of addiction is the worst illness that anyone can encounter,” said Adams, a certified recovery coach with Safe Communities. “Even though we put it on ourselves sometimes by not making wise choices … it’s like a monster. It only comes to kill, steal and destroy. It robbed me of everything that I ever had.”
Adams used some variety of drug for 35 of her nearly 57 years. The mother of seven, who had all her children taken away from her, has been in recovery the past 14 years.

“I thank God today for giving me a second life,” she said. “Today I know that there’s nothing going on in this world that a drink or drug won’t make worse.”

Adams was one of the recovering addicts and family members of addicts who spoke at a gathering Saturday at the Fireman’s Park shelter in Monona. The Enough is Enough event was organized by Tayler Allen-Pahmeier, who attended Monona Grove High School a decade ago.

Allen-Pahmeier’s older sister, Monique Allen, died Sept. 12, 2017, of a heroin overdose.

“My sister struggled with addiction with heroin for four years,” she said. “It didn’t just affect Monique. It affected me, it affected my mom, it affected my stepdad, my stepmom, and the way that it spirals is just unbelievable. I had every hope that she would beat it, but she didn’t. She left her three kids behind as well. I think that’s the hardest part for my family to deal with, not being able to have that relationship like we did before with those kids.”

Saturday’s event was aimed at raising awareness of the resources available to addicts and their family members who need help. She partnered with Safe Communities for the event.

Allen-Pahmeier’s mother and stepfather lived in Arizona for 16 years and were planning to move back to Wisconsin. The day they sold the house, they received the news of Allen’s death.

“We were doing everything we could to get her into rehab,” Allen-Pahmeier said. “She had been into treatment before, she had been through detox. She had gone to my mom’s house in Arizona to get clean, and that demon was stronger than she was.”

Kelly Pietsch said she struggles with the guilt of not being there for her daughter and for not comprehending what she was going through with her addiction.
“My daughter was a little spitfire. She had a wonderful life. She had three children that she loved more than life, and heroin just took it,” Pietsch said. “The three children have been separated, and unfortunately, we are only allowed to see one of them, so I have two grandchildren that I can’t even see.

“I still have so much guilt, because I wasn’t here for her. I didn’t understand heroin and everything like I do now, and I wish she could come back just for a minute so I could apologize and just tell her how sorry I am that I didn’t understand. I said some things to her, that if she loved her kids, she would just stop. In my mind, it was that easy.”

Several others shared their stories of becoming beholden to heroin and their recovery efforts. None of them said it was easy.
Lindsay Mohrbacher, a one-time registered nurse, started on her road to heroin addiction after being prescribed pain medication. She was happily married, lived in a nice house and had a good job. But it wasn’t enough.

“Long story short, I ended up stealing drugs from the hospital,” she said.

Facing criminal charges, her life started to spin out of control.
“When I no longer had access (to the pills), I turned to heroin,” Mohrbacher said. “Just like we have to breathe, I had to have those drugs. It’s a disease, and you’re sick.”

Alcohol was next, and it, too, ruined her life. It was easier to get, and it was legal.
Sober for more than year, Mohrbacher still battles her demons every day, but like the light shining through a stained glass window, she keeps focused one day at a time.
“If you’re in a cathedral or church, and you see just a few glimpses of light coming through, it’s still dark and dreary but that few glimpses of light, you can focus on that, because more light will come through if you keep going,” she said.

Adams understands what Mohrbacher was going through during her darkest times.
“When we use drugs, it affects everyone around us, our kids, our mom, our dad, our significant others, our neighbors. I was that addict that did everything,” Adams said. “When they took my kids, I was like, ‘Everything is mine.’”

She said recovery is possible if you give yourself a chance. She was in treatment seven times before she made it to where she is today. If you fall seven times, you have to get up eight times, she said.

“Never stop trying,” Adams said. “Recovery is possible, and it’s real. It’s the best life that you can live after using drugs and alcohol.”

Former Addicts Counsel Pregnant Women on their Road to Recovery in one of a Kind SSM Health Program

MADISON, Wis — In the fight to end opioid addiction, SSM Health is partnering with Safe Communities to match addicted pregnant patients with recovery coaches.

The Pregnancy2Recovery program is the first of its kind in the country. SSM Health doctors are identifying at-risk patients in Dane County, then pairing them with someone who has been through the same situation.

“I’m just like the women I work with. I’m 13 years sober now. I used drugs and alcohol maybe 20 years of my life,” said recovery coach Jewel Adams.

She said the coaches are not social workers or law enforcement officers, but trusted friends who don’t judge. They help patients navigate the challenges of carrying a baby who will go through withdrawal.

“I talk to my patients like how I’d want someone to talk to me, because when I was pregnant I didn’t have a program like this, which I really needed,” said Adams.

The 56-year-old used crack cocaine during three of her six pregnancies. But she said she doesn’t regret her past. Without it, she wouldn’t be able to help the two expecting mothers she is coaching.

“When I share my story with women, I’m giving them a hope shot really,” said Adams. “I’m letting them know that it can be done, you don’t have to live this way.”

From 2000 to 2009, the use of opioid drugs during pregnancy has increased from 1.19 per 1,000 hospital births to 5.63.

“Not only does it happen more often than you think,” said Dr. Susan Davidson, but it happens in all walks of life and to everybody in every socioeconomic class.”

Davidson hopes Pregnancy2Recovery will help solve the epidemic in a more holistic way and bring babies into a more stable home.

“Our patients need somebody positive. They need somebody who can encourage them, they need somebody who they can share their deepest feelings with without feelings like they’re being judged,” said Davidson.

Adams knows exactly what these women are going through. She encourages them to stop feeling guilty and talk to people, instead of suffering alone.

“There’s fear in being pregnant and using drugs. You don’t know for sure if your baby will be taken from you, you don’t know if your baby is going to come out sick. That’s the worst feeling a mom could have,” said Adams.

The program is free. It is funded through a grant given to Safe Communities.

Original Article:


Treatment Key

Safe communities has complied a list of abbreviation definitions for finding the right treatment for you.

MAT: Medication for Addiction Treatment.
OP: Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends. individual and group therapy, these can include or not include MAT.
IOP: Intensive Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends individual and extended groups, 9-12 hours a week.
Residential: person lives at the facility for a period of at least 14 days, some last as many as 45 days.
PHP: Partial Hospitalization Program is a structured mental health treatment program that runs for several hours each day, three to five days per week.
DBT: Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that integrates mindfulness techniques.