7 Investigates: Sober Living Shortage

Published: Aug. 30, 2017 at 3:59 PM CDT
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In many cultures and faiths water represents new life. A new life is what those in

Inpatient 21 Day Substance Abuse Recovery Program are seeking.

Tanya Przybylski is a shining example of achieving that goal through that program.

"What's your everyday life now like," asked 7 Investigates Emily Davies.

Taking a deep breath, Przybylski said "it's so different." She begins to tear up. "Sorry, it's crazy it's been that long."

On Sept. 9, 2017 Przybylski will mark two years free from the grips of methamphetamine and opioid addiction.

"It kind of numbs you when you're using," she described. "You don't think about feelings or other people or what's going on in your life... At the end of my using, it was like torture. You had to use to feel normal."

Lakeside Recovery has only six beds with about 120 people regularly waiting to be accepted.

"I've treated it like a gift," she said. "There's a lot of people that were waiting to get into treatment before me."

"We get referrals daily for our treatment program," Daniel Shine explained. He manages the program.

He said because they have limited space, only those with a high need, who firmly believe they are ready to make a lifestyle change get in.

"So, a lot of times that means individuals will hit rock bottom," Shine said. "They'll acknowledge that some of the consequences in their lives have become overwhelming."

"The moment I knew that I needed to get help and change was the moment my parents were ready to just give up and not help me anymore," recalled Przybylski.

She said she started using drugs like prescription pills and marijuana recreationally in high school. She became addicted to opioids. Years later, she tried to help herself through an outpatient suboxone program, but failed to stay clean.

"And so I met somebody and they were using meth and from there I started using meth," she said.

"A person may get out of jail or treatment, they're looking to turn their life around, but the only contacts they have potentially are the individuals or family members or whomever that basically fostered their addiction in the first place,"

Coordinator Melissa Moore said.

She explains having sober living options available for those recovering from addiction is vital.

7 Investigates contacted every county in the NewsChannel 7 viewing area searching for inpatient treatment facilities and sober living homes. Currently, there are only 56 inpatient treatment beds and 63 sober living beds, totaling 119 beds for all of north central Wisconsin.

"There are a lot of buildings that are empty, there are a lot of homes that are empty and for sale, and what we need as a community is individuals to step up and say, you know, this is something that's important to me," Moore urged.

There are several counties without any options and will refer people outside counties, but Przybylski says location is key. She tried inpatient treatment in Stevens Point prior to Lakeside Recovery, but was not successful because she said she was not going to invest in a job or life after treatment there. Her home is in Wausau.

"When you look at addiction, it's going to be just the same with recovery," Moore explained, "a person is going to need to work on it every single day and they're going to need that transitional work sites, they're going to need the transitional living locations, they're going to need adequate treatment."

"With that, it also entails identifying people who have negative effects on their lives and being able to make that choice to maybe not have them included in their lives when they leave treatment," Shine said. "And that can be difficult for individuals to make that change because for a lot of them, that's the people they grew up with or the people that they know and the lifestyle that they know."

"Your friends when you were still in addiction, do you know where they're at today," asked Davies.

"Most of them are in jail or out using still actively," responded Przybylski.

"It was nice starting treatment with five other people who were going through the same thing and they were my first clean five friends that I had," she said. "So, it was nice to have that support and have those people like me for me and not what I could find them or get for them."

"With addiction, it really requires a lot of structure," explained Shine. "Being in a treatment program, they have an opportunity to build that structure, create a plan, sometimes even hour-by-hour what it's going to be like after they leave a treatment program."

"My daily life has structure, has people that care about me and I care about them," Przybylski said. "My day is just more than I can ask for."

“Some days are struggles, don’t get me wrong," she prefaced, "and there are some days I have using thoughts and I just have a different way of dealing with them now.”

Because the community supported her when she needed it most, Przybylski and others like her have a second chance at a drug-free life.

"If I can get clean and stay clean, anybody can."

Przybylski now gives talks about her recovery to high school students and recovery groups.

Some inpatient facilities hope to add beds, including Lakeside Recovery.

outpatient facility is expected to create a new residential sober living facility in about eight months to a year. They are planning to have four to five beds available.

According to the

, an estimated 173,000 people use illicit drugs in the state.

Democratic Rep. Melissa Sargent from Madison authored a

addressing this exact issue. It was introduced to the Assembly in May and is waiting to be discussed in the health committee.

The bill would give loan incentives to people to create self-sustaining sober living homes and allocate funds to provide grants for training and supervision of these homes. The bill creates a funding source for grants and loans, allocating about $925,700 per year. This is the second time the bill has been introduced.