Communities across Wisconsin struggle with drug addiction. To help spread awareness and promote community engagement, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Continuing Education department will offer a substance abuse workshop focused on recent drug trends from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27, in the Alumni Room of Dreyfus University Center.
The cost is $89, and registration is available online at the UWSP Continuing Education webpage.
Melissa Dotter, coordinator of the Drug Free Communities Program of the Marathon County Health Department, will present the workshop. The content is intended for students, mental health professionals, members of law enforcement and any other interested individuals.
One course credit in Social Work 395 is available for students who attend the workshop along with additional meetings. Credit is offered at the normal rate of tuition per credit, which is $378.46 for a Wisconsin resident.
Julie Hellweg, program coordinator of UWSP Continuing Education, said the workshop will cover a variety of hot topics on drug abuse and prevention, but will focus on heroin addiction. Workshops like Dotter’s are offered about once a year, and always stem from current issues.
“That’s an unbelievably growing epidemic in Wisconsin,” Hellweg said. “It’s crossing social and economic boundaries.”
Dotter said older illicit drugs like heroin are re-emerging, and legal drugs like new alcohol and tobacco products are becoming popular. She will provide insight into the latest trends, address addiction basics and discuss how communities may help and treat those who seek support.
“It’s such a complex issue,” Dotter said. “Every community is different and needs to join in the fight.”
Dotter has a master’s degree in community mental health and completed her undergraduate studies in criminology. She has worked in substance abuse prevention since 2001 and helps point drug-using individuals and their families in the right direction, but said it is a person’s own choice to get treatment.
“I use the duck in a dirty pond analogy,” Dotter said. “You can take a dirty duck out of a dirty pond and clean it up, but if you put it back into the dirty pond, it’s going to get dirty again.”
Dotter’s approach to substance abuse prevention includes up-to-date education, as well as awareness and strengthening of coalitions or support organizations. She said without adequate financial backing, it can be very difficult to gain support for substance abuse.
“We need to look into what different systems can do to support those people,” Dotter said.