“People are dying and it’s devastating:” A new approach to fighting heroin addiction in Kenosha Co.

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KENOSHA COUNTY -- By now, you have heard about the growing heroin problem in southeastern Wisconsin -- and there is no better place to see the damage the drug can cause than county jails. Officials in Kenosha County have introduced a new type of treatment. It is called "vivitrol" and it helps addicts kick the habit.

The doors at the Kenosha County Jail are secure enough to keep those arrested inside. But there is a different kind of door that keeps bringing them back.

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

"How do we stop the revolving door of people who are having drug problems?" asked Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser.

Danielle Wetley was never in trouble before she turned 29 years old. Then, someone introduced her to heroin.

"I lost my last apartment. I lost a really nice car, my stability, with having my kids all the time," Wetley said.

Wetley's habit would eventually cost more than her house and apartment. It would cost thousands of dollars -- as she ended up so addicted she would shoot up four to eight times each day. Soon, a woman who was never in jail before was arrested over and over again, committing crimes to get money for the drug.

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

Danielle Wetley

"It's crazy actually. You're constantly thnking about it. If you don't have it, you get sick," Wetley said.

Wetley was arrested again in January. At the time, withdrawal in the Kenosha County Jail made her so sick she was delirious for 13 days.

It just so happens the timing was right. Kenosha County started a pilot program with an anti-heroin drug. Wetley is one of the first to receive Vivitrol in the program. For support, Wetley lives and goes through counseling at the Oxford House shelter.

Vivitrol

Vivitrol

"Almost weekly, between myself and other people we know, we are hearing about deaths. People are dying from this -- and it's devastating," Wetley said. "These are young people. These are moms. These are daughters. These are fathers."

Kenosha County officials say they think it will be worth the $300,000 investment to start the program.

"When you lock people up, it's not inexpensive," said County Executive Kreuser. "And when you can find a way to look for efficiencies, the sheriff and I talk about how we can be more efficient with taxpayer dollars. And sometimes, you try to stop the repeat customers. And if you can stop that revolving door, then I think we're doing our jobs."

Heroin

Heroin

Wetley just took her third Vivitrol shot in a six-month plan to stop her heroin addiction -- and to perhaps open the door to permanent freedom.

Officials in Kenosha County will review this program to see how well it is working, and determine whether it is a program that should be long-term.

4 comments

  • Becci

    This unfortunately is NOT the ONLY answer! Everyone neglects to remember that before you even get to the Vivitrol stage you need to go through the withdrawal which they have now finally found DOES put strain on the brain though it’s not known how much or what the prognosis will be. There still is NO HELP available for anyone who is seeking treatment and want to get their lives together. I just received my $15,000.00 bill from Rogers last week. Because that is always something who is already starving on Disability needs to deal with ESPECIALLY when they were trying to “Get Help ” WHY do we still allow a law to be in place that LIMITS the number of patients a doctor can treat for addiction?! This is absolutely asinine to me! It took me OVER 11 months to find help last year. …that’s absolutely UNACCEPTABLE! Or how about the $300+ fees they are charging EVERY MONTH for the privilege of getting the chance to get clean!

    • opiates are opiates

      Maybe try not doing heroin to begin with. If you step down that path it’s YOUR responsibility to get off it. I’m sure treatment is no more than what most addicts are already blowing on heroin. You should be thankful people are willing to help to begin with

  • smh

    Why are junkies the only criminals society gives a pass on? They chose to use the drugs, so they’ll need to live with the consequences.

    • Kelly

      People should seriously do some research before making stupid comments. People don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘hmm, I think ill try heroin today’…addiction is a disease and everyone around them lives with the consequences. Grow up, educate yourselves, stop judging people you have no right to judge.

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