People struggling with drug addiction in our community will have additional resources with unique insight into the challenges they face. Wisconsin's rate of opioid overdose deaths is above the national average. Coulee Council on Addictions now joins 11 other programs in the state that will fund "recovery coaches" through a federal grant looking to target the opioid crisis.
Scott Wehrs, a member of Coulee Council's Board and someone 13 years into his own recovery will be among the first to be trained in La Crosse.
"When I got sober in 2004, I went to outpatient treatment at Gundersen," Wehrs said. "The counselors there, most of them were addicts or alcoholics and you can relate better to people that have been through it."
That perspective is exactly what the recovery coach program will utilize. Recovery Coaches have to have been in recovery for at least a year. Trained coaches will remain on-call and connect with individuals who have suffered an overdose on opioids and become their personal advocate on the road to recovery. The coaches aren't necessarily in recovery from opioids themselves, but Coulee Council says having someone in your corner who understands addiction, especially at that point, is crucial to recovery.
"Substance use disorder is one of those few diseases that people are treated sometimes with disrespect for the very disease that they have," said Coulee Council's Executive Director Cheryl Hancock. "Too often folks are sent out on the street and then they're dealing with withdrawls and things like that – symptoms – and no one [is] there to support them in their recovery."
That support would now come from trained individuals who have been there before and will be there - sometimes up to a year - when others may not be.
"Many times when people are at their bottom, they feel there's no hope," Wehrs said. "These are people, they have hearts, they have families. You have to love them and give them hope and bring them back."
Coulee Council is looking for 15 recovery coaches. You must be at least one year into recovery and be able to attend training beginning in March. coaches receive a stipend for their time spent with those in recovery. Coulee Council anticipates a 6 to 8 week period before the program officially launches.
You can apply and send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.