SPECIAL REPORT: Combating the opioid crisis - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Combating the opioid crisis

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MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) -

Throughout the country, more than 2.5 million Americans suffer from opioid addiction, that includes people in Marathon County.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, more people die from opioid overdoses than car crashes.

"The issue is real, it's there," said Wausau mayor Robert Mielke.

The question being asked is, 'what is being done to help the issue?'

The Wausau Comprehensive Treatment Center aims to help those caught up in the addiction. The clinic director said the facility has more than 400 patients, who are all there because they want to be.

"We had 85 percent of people who were admitted stay clean of opioid within three months," Kristine Zelechowski said.

The clinic offers one on one counseling, group therapy, and methadone methods.

However, directors said people have misconceptions on the main goal of the clinic.

Zelechowski said their purpose is to not replace one drug with another, but give opportunity for sobriety.

Front line workers of the crisis said the clinic is just what the city needs to help spread awareness on the issue.

"There's not enough in central Wisconsin to meet the need of those individuals that are really seeking help," said Wausau Deputy Chief Matt Barnes.

Barnes said the best way to tackle the battle against drugs, is by grasping a better understanding.

Melissa Moore, the Drug Free Communities Program Coordinator, works with the city to educate others on drug related issues.

“I think when it comes to addiction in general, I think we really need to look at it as it’s not those people but our people,” Moore said.

If you know someone who is suffering with an addiction, you can find out how to help on the Wausau Comprehensive Treatment Center website. 

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