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.