The current health pandemic affecting our communities across Wisconsin has presented even greater health risks to those with substance use disorders. We were fighting an epidemic before the pandemic, one of substance use disorders taking many lives. Being in isolation, with boredom, loneliness and fear, many people have turned to alcohol and other substances to console them.
People who are in long term recovery, who are not at risk for using substances prior to isolation are now finding themselves without connection, the groups that support them in their recovery and greater bouts of depression and solitude. Lack of connection is the number one adversary to those in recovery or seeking recovery.
Alcohol use has increased close to 40% in Dane County from February 2020 to May 1, 2020. Emergency response calls are over double that of last year during the same time period. The use of interventions which are evidence-based are needed now more than ever. This is just the beginning; we have a lot of work ahead of us.
Recovery Coaches and Peer Support Specialists can be critical in the support of people in the best and the worst of times. These are people with lived experience, who know what it is like to struggle with mental health and substance use issues. Depending on resources in areas around the state, peers can call people struggling and under safe circumstances, meet up with them in the community to support them during this difficult time. Listening, validating, identifying and creating an atmosphere of understanding are the key components to the relationship.
Local resources vary based on funding and availability. 211 is a great resource to start with when inquiring about where one can find a Recovery Coach or Peer Support Specialist.
Tany Kraege is the Drug Poisoning Prevention Team Supervisor at Safe Communities MDC and a Crisis Worker at Journey Mental Health Center. She specializes in working with people with substance use disorder, women using substances during pregnancy, trauma, relationships and mental health issues. Tanya has worked in the field of mental health and substance use for 10 years and currently oversees Recovery Coaches and Peer Support Specialists who work in the Emergency Departments, Primary Care Clinics, the Dane County Jail, the Treatment Readiness Center and with Parents who are expecting a child and have substance use disorder. Tanya played a role in the Health Care Task Force on Safe Opioid Prescribing by participating in the academic detailing program for working with clinicians on co-prescribing Naloxone with opioid prescription medications. In addition to being a Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor, and a community advocate, Tanya is a Certified Recovery Coach, Recovery Coach Trainer and Peer Support Specialist Trainer and continues to use her story of addiction and recovery to help others gain hope and insight into new ways of living. Tanya Kraege APSW, CSAC, MSW, CCAR Coach, CCAR Trainer, PSS Trainer.