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: