Support Group For Families Of Heroin Addicts Expands Into Fox Valley

Group Has Trained Families As First Responders To Overdoses


A nationwide support group for families of heroin addicts is expanding its services into the Fox Valley.

United We CAN (which stands for Change Addiction Now) is kicking off its Fox Valley support group, joining other organizations that serve a region with the highest opiate addiction rate in the state.

The director of United We CAN, Lori Cross Schotten — whose son has a heroin addiction — said that the group uses the “Four Pillars” approach of prevention, treatment, law enforcement, and harm prevention.

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“It’s all of them combined that’s going to drive recovery,” she said.

Part of harm prevention is teaching parents how to administer a drug called Narcan, which is able to revive a person who is overdosing. In Wisconsin, first responders can carry the drug — though Cross Schotten said that because of a loophole in a recently passed law, who is considered a “first responder” may be loosely defined.

“It didn’t necessarily designate what role a first responder had,” said Schotten. “So in the situation where someone is overdosing in your home, you may, as a parent, be the first responder.”

With help from the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, United We CAN has trained 23 families. So far, Cross Schotten said, no legal challenges have arisen.

She said United We CAN is focused on family members. It urges members to contact state and federal lawmakers about issues like in-patient detoxification coverage. The group also reaches out to addicts to let them know about Wisconsin’s recently passed Good Samaritan law that allows fellow users to report overdoses to 911 without fear of legal repercussions.