MADISON -- In our Two Americas series, we show you the side of addiction you do not see often, and how one doctor is putting the pressure on rural family clinics to spot and help addicts.
Whether we are talking about drugs or alcohol, Jason Gonzalez with 4th Dimension Sobriety has seen it all with his decade-old sober living program.
He supports a new idea to provide an eight-hour "boot camp" class to rural family doctors and nurses to help them spot an addict and know how to treat them.
"It's important for people in the medical field because a lot of times when a person needs help, it is a small window of opportunity," Gonzalez said.
Doctor Randall Brown with UW Health helped come up with the idea.
"In those rural areas, 70 percent of the rural counties in Wisconsin lack opioid treatment programs or a provider who has the license to prescribe," he said.
He partnered with the Wisconsin Hospital Association to offer the class, which also connects medical staff with grassroots organizations.
This includes encouraging family physicians to get licensed to write powerful, yet life-saving prescription drugs to treat addicted patients. The addiction treatment going through a simple acronym "C.A.R.E." could help spot a patient abusing alcohol, physicians say.
"Have you felt like you should cut down on your alcohol use? Are you annoyed when you are confronted with your use? Are you guilty about your use pattern and do you need an eye-opener to get up and feel like you are functioning normally?" Brown said.
Rural Nurse Chrystina Schroeder, who is the nursing supervisor for Verona and Belleville Family Medicine Clinics, south of Madison, took part in the boot camp in May. She says it has changed the way she helps patients who come from Green and Dane counties. She added, "This was a huge eye-opener for me. I feel a little bit silly that I didn't know, but now I do and I hope more people recognize the value in it."
A hope that is shared by many in the community.
Dr. Brown says the next boot camp class is scheduled for sometime in September. They hope to have it in-person in Elkhart Lake, but have not released exact details just yet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, for the first time ever in 2021, drug overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 nationwide.