Blog & News

Op-Ed: The Fight Against Drug Addiction

The Fight Against Drug Addiction
by Chris Keto
6 June 2016

Molly went to high school in the suburbs. She was enrolled to attend UW LaCrosse in the Fall. She lived in Franklin with her parents and was active in sports. But Molly didn’t feel she was popular, and when she fell in with the wrong crowd, it changed her life. Starting with alcohol and some drug sampling, her new boyfriend convinced her to try heroin. For the next four years, Molly battled addiction. She lost her job. She lost her college placement. She and the bad news boyfriend had a child, and the Family Protective Services took the child away. Molly was lucky. She battled hard and found treatment that would bring her back. Her courageous attempt was life-saving, literally. Molly is not her real name, but the story is true and it is a too common tale.

Dan, a white-collar worker, lived in Waukesha with his wife and children. Following an accident, Dan took Opioid medication for pain and became addicted. One night, impaired Dan took too many pills and died of an accidental overdose, leaving his family to sort out how this could happen. Dan is not his real name, but the story is true and also a too common tale.

We’re at war on many fronts, such as the war on cancer, the war on heart disease, the war on diabetes, etc. But the war on drugs should be captivating us in a whole new way. Like an epidemic, it is impacting people from adolescents to geriatrics. It pounces on them when they are most vulnerable. And it is gaining ground, nationwide, in every community from slums to the country club set, among all zip codes. North to south, east to west, in-town, out-of-town, cities, suburbs and farms. In a report from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers. As a consequence, the rate of heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2000 to 2013.” That number continues to climb. Heroin is an easy next step. It’s cheap and it’s prevalent and it masks physical and emotional pain like nothing else. It works quickly. And with one use, a vulnerable kid trying to navigate a difficult existence is hooked. Or a mature patient fighting pain is unable to stop taking the drug, even when the doctor will no longer write the prescription. A person struggling with addiction may ultimately turn to stealing and other crimes, if necessary, to keep the fix coming. Or, the user may overdose and die. Either are likely outcomes without successful intervention.

We can point to so much success among some of the other wars, hard fought over time with all hands on deck and ample resources to make a difference. We now cure cancer every day according to oncologists. Not every type of cancer, of course, but we’ve made great strides. We can point to many improvements for the treatment of heart disease and diabetes along with many other illnesses that once held dire prognosis just a few years ago. It took our expectations and our money to do the job. But that was the easy part.

What progress have we made as a community in our war against drug addiction? Not as much. You’ve heard the question, how do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. Unlike cancer deaths, deaths from addiction don’t always get the attention or the response they deserve, even though alcohol and drug addiction touches three out of four people in the United States. Some folks may still believe that those deaths are others’ problems. The response may be one of sympathy, but nothing more.

In fact, we now know that overdoses from prescription pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Rising to the challenge, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new prescribing guidelines in 2016 to primary care clinicians prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The CDC recommended these when treating adult patients with chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. It’s certainly a start. Reducing the availability of opioids is part of the prevention effort.

Our legislators are working too in a bipartisan attempt to strengthen laws that will address our state’s prescription opioid epidemic. The Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education bill (HOPE) recently signed into law allocates $2 million to Wisconsin’s Treatment and Diversion (TAD) programs. The statement released from Representative John Nygren, 89th Assembly District explains “Often times, people who struggle with addiction are thrown in jail or sentenced to prison without access to the appropriate treatment opportunities. While people addicted to opioids may detox while inside the prison system, they frequently haven’t gotten the mental health treatment needed to fight their addiction. TAD programs help to bridge that gap by offering helpful treatment opportunities in lieu of incarceration. These programs not only keep more nonviolent, drug-related offenders out of prison, but they’re proven to work to increase instances of recovery and reduce recidivism.” The HOPE Agenda consists of 17 laws approved unanimously by both Houses of the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Walker.

Disposing of prescription pain killers in a responsible manner is another part of what we all can do to assist the prevention effort. To get them out of our homes eliminates the chance of teenagers experimenting with drugs finding them. Flushing only puts them in our water system. There is a website where one can find a location close-by where medications may be disposed of safely. Visit here for more information.

Joe Muchka, Director of the Waukesha County Addiction Resource Council, (ARC) focuses on education and prevention. ARC, a 501c3, is a strong partner with the Waukesha County Health & Human Services Department as well as other community agencies, non-profits and private foundations. In essence, they provide assessments and referrals to folks who find themselves in the hospitals, the courts, the jails, or on the streets. Joe’s team cares deeply about these victims of alcohol, heroin and other opioids. A large part of the team’s objective is prevention. Working diligently with underage drinkers, meeting with patients at the Women’s Center, Hope Center or the Hebron House, to name a few, they counsel, inform and help people to better outcomes. The Council is an affiliate of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction. Joe is impressed with what individuals and communities are accomplishing to turn this tide. He says, “Families themselves will drive the solutions, like “OPEN,” Oconomowoc Parent Education Network, or “Your Choice,” a non-profit 501c3 offering drug and alcohol awareness programs founded by a local family who knows first-hand about addiction and its consequences. We need legislators’ continued help to keep programs funded in areas of mental health, substance abuse and aging. This epidemic is at the forefront of Waukesha’s Heroin and Illicit Drug Task Force, including schools, law enforcement, hospitals and public health, along with Wisconsin’s Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, “AODA” treatment centers.

Kristine Klenz, Supervisor of the Waukesha County Deputy Medical Examiners, sees the sad end from addiction too often. She says “this is a much needed message, that must be shared to do more important work.” The truth is it really is everyone’s problem. Perhaps, it takes a village to cure a village.

I recently attended a fund-raising event for Meta House, a nationally recognized treatment program in Milwaukee. Meta House has 35 beds for women and 15 for their children in its residential program. Their clients are referred to them by Milwaukee County and some of the surrounding counties. But Meta House is just one program. There is a waiting list because there simply aren’t enough resources to largely expand their program to accommodate all the women who want help. It must be like being on the waiting list for the serum that will save your life. If it’s your child, does the “waiting list” sound like a “best” option to you?

The speaker at that Meta House event, Dr. Magda Peck, shared a very alarming statistic. She said, “for the first time ever in recorded history, The Center for Disease Control reported that the life expectancy of white women was slightly less than that of their mothers.” Say that again, you say? How is that possible? The report did not speculate on what caused the decline, but the authors note that the findings are an aberration from the overall trend toward longer life expectancy that every generation has come to expect. Among the suspected contributing factors are suicide, drug and alcohol abuse. To hear their stories and to hear their success through Meta House, literally makes one weep. To hear of those that never get to Meta House, found dead throughout the state also makes one weep. In 2014, overdose deaths in the United States hit record numbers.

Meta House operates with the support of government and private foundation grants and donations. The length of stay has a direct correlation to the client outcome. These are kids and middle agers that often are no longer benefiting from insurance; they’ve lost their jobs, their cars, their homes, and often their families. Those who are admitted to Meta House are received regardless of their ability to pay. Meta House has recently opened Shorewood House, an eight bed residential private pay program in Shorewood.

Dr. Peck ended her talk at the Meta House Fundraising Event by asking for everyone to heed the call, feel the need to be involved, and join the war. It was a call to action.

For more information about Meta House or Shorewood House, visit their respective websites – Meta House and Shorewood House – or, to learn more about the Council on Drug Addiction, visit

While all the progress was made fighting other killer diseases, heroin and opioids moved in and took center stage, to become the epidemic among young and middle age people that it is today.

All wars are likely won with hope and grit and banding together to fight and take what is ours. But we have too few of the very best treatment facilities that succeed at reclaiming lives. We have too little recognition that this is not a “blame” thing, but rather a disease than can overtake anyone at any time.

We can do this. We must all do what we can. Volunteer, donate, and spread awareness to get these drugs off our streets and out of our kids. There is hope.

10% of Americans Have a Serious Drug Problem, But They Aren’t Getting Help

One in 10 American adults — or 23 million people —has had a serious drug problem at some time in their life, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health. And right now, 4% of Americans are struggling with a drug use disorder.

What’s truly alarming is that the vast majority of people with drug use disorder never receive any form of treatment. The study found that only about 14% of people who had drug use disorder in the past year received care. And a mere 1 in 7 of those currently suffering is in treatment.

Treatment rates for alcohol use disorder are similarly low. An NIAA study released earlier this year found that nearly one-third of adults in the United States have alcohol use disorder at some time in their lives, but only about 20% receive treatment.

It’s important to understand that people with drug use disorder were significantly more likely to have a broad range of mental health issues. The study found they were 1.3 times as likely to experience clinical depression, 1.6 times as likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder, and 1.8 times as likely to have borderline personality disorder, when compared to people without drug use disorder. Drug use disorder was also linked to a three-fold increase in both alcohol and nicotine use disorder.

“Given these numbers, and other recent findings about the prevalence and under-treatment of alcohol use disorder in the U.S., it is vitally important that we continue our efforts to understand the underlying causes of drug and alcohol addiction, their relationship to other psychiatric conditions and the most effective forms of treatment,” said George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in a statement.

Experts have noted that low treatment rates may reflect barriers related to stigma, skepticism about the effectiveness of treatment, and insufficient resources. But these low rates also put a well-needed spotlight on the lack of knowledge among health care providers. As Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, points out, “The prevalence and complexity of drug use disorders revealed in this study coupled with the lack of treatment speak to the urgent need for health care professionals to be trained in proper techniques to identify, assess, diagnose, and treat substance use disorders among patients in their practice.”

If you or someone you know may be struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, there is help. The clinical staff at Meta House is trained to tailor a treatment plan that will help you reclaim your life and successfully navigate the road to long-term recovery.

Dr. Magda Peck to Keynote A Day for Meta House 2016

Sarah Pollack
Partnerships & Communications Manager
Meta House
(414) 977-5803



Dr. Magda Peck to Address 500% Increase in Heroin-Related Deaths
since 2005 at A Day for Meta House 2016


Milwaukee, WI – Dr. Magda Peck ScD, ScM, PA, Founding Dean of the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and Founder and Principal of MP3 Health Group, will be a keynote speaker at the 2016 A Day for Meta House, “Bringing Hope & Healing to Our Community.” Dr. Peck, along with Meta House President and CEO, Amy Lindner, and a Meta House graduate, will present a thoughtful dialogue about the local impacts the heroin and other opiates epidemic continues to have on our region.

The Center for Disease Control cites that in 2010, enough painkillers were prescribed to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for a month. According to a recently-released report from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers. The same report cited that 94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they used heroin because prescription opioids were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”

Since 2005, heroin-related deaths in Milwaukee County have risen almost 500% and continue to rise sharply each year.

Dr. Peck will discuss how the heroin epidemic affects the most fundamental aspects of our community – our families, our neighborhoods and our public systems, such as schools, courts and hospitals. This year’s event will both inform and inspire by introducing guests to women who have overcome opiate addiction through the holistic, family-centered treatment provided at Meta House.

Dr. Peck, a 2015 Milwaukee Business Journal Woman of Influence, holds masters and doctoral degrees from the Harvard (Chan) School of Public Health. Her work in the community health field includes tenures at CityMatCH and the University of Nebraska. Locally, in 2007, the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee was established as the State’s first nationally-accredited public health school. Dr. Peck was named Founding Dean. Most recently, she founded the MP3 Health Group to catalyze great leadership, strategic collaboration and sustainable systems change for strong, healthy and just communities.

“We’re thrilled to have Dr. Peck share her insights with us at this year’s A Day for Meta House,” said Amy Lindner, President and CEO of Meta House. “She is at the forefront of convening influential leaders to identify and implement important solutions to Milwaukee’s most wide-reaching health concerns.”

A Day for Meta House is presented by Harley-Davidson, Assurance Laboratories, Boelter Companies, CliftonLarsonAllen and Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

A Day for Meta House is free to attend. Guests will have the opportunity to consider making a gift. Registration is open for the event, which will be held on Wednesday, April 27 at Carroll University and on Friday, May 6 at the Harley-Davidson Museum Garage. The lunch session on May 6 has already reached capacity. The annual event attracts over 1,000 attendees who come together to learn about and advocate for Meta House’s work to end the generational cycle of addiction by healing women and strengthening families.

To register for A Day for Meta House or to learn more about our work, visit our website at and like our Facebook page at



Winners Announced for Inaugural Wisconsin Job Honor Awards

Meta House is proud to partner with award winner, STEP Industries, who helps to empower several of our clients each year with job training and employment opportunities.


Initiative aims to employ disadvantaged jobseekers by celebrating “A New Kind of Hero” 

MADISON, WI — The Wisconsin Job Honor Awards, a new initiative aimed at recognizing Wisconsinites who have overcome significant barriers to employment, has announced its top honorees for 2016.

Nominations were submitted via the organization’s website and judged by a statewide panel. The awards were presented by Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch during the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) Talent Conference on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 in Madison. Nearly 200 Wisconsin business leaders assembled to witness the ceremony, in which biographical videos described honoree efforts to win life-changing jobs.

“I applaud these honorees and all our citizens who are working hard to overcome barriers to achieve the dignity of work,” said Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, “Rather than letting the past dictate their future, these individuals are proving that prosperity is possible when you work hard, stay focused, and keep hoping.”

One such honoree is Jason B. Wright Sr. of Green Bay. Growing up in inner-city Chicago, Wright’s dreams of a football career ended when a bullet shattered his leg in a drive-by shooting. Wright plunged into depression and drug abuse and was later sentenced to prison for selling drugs. Several years later his life abruptly changed when he visited Ariens Company in Brillion under a prison work release program. “I immediately had a new addiction,” recalls Wright, “and it was to provide for my family.” Released from prison and now working at Ariens full-time, Wright was recently promoted to production trainer and his future is bright. “Ariens truly saved my life,” affirms Wright, “I don’t know where I would have been if they hadn’t given me a second chance.”

Sharing employee honors is Mitchell Matthiesen of Suamico. Diagnosed with autism, anxiety and 100% blindness, Mitchell’s barriers to employment made it unlikely he’d ever succeed in an integrated employment setting. Defying the odds, Mitchell is now a grocery bagger at Olsen’s Piggly Wiggly in Green Bay where he’s been employed more than three years. Relying on his highly-developed sense of touch and smell, he sorts and bags items so efficiently that most customers have no idea he’s blind. Mitchell’s manager Mary Anne Olsen observes “The customers love him. He’s basically a perfect associate.” Mitchell enjoys his job, enthusing “Having a job there is really good! You get to meet new people, and customers often come up to thank me for bagging.”

Wright and Matthiesen each received a $500 cash award and engraved crystal award.

In the employer category, Ultratec in Madison and STEP Industries of Neenah and Milwaukee were honored for their commitment to hire disadvantaged candidates, including people with developmental disabilities, past criminal convictions and histories of addiction. “If you will see them as individuals who can be gainfully employed, you’ll get a great return,” explains Ultratec’s LiliAnne Carey, “All you have to do is open your heart.” Michelle Devine Giese, President of STEP Industries, echoes that observation: “People who have struggled and overcome something are a lot stronger than people who have not had to overcome something. They can become the best workers you’ve seen.”

In the past 30 years, STEP Industries has served more than 10,000 men and women in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Devine Giese explains “We teach them everything they need to know to be successful at the job: How to work with a team, how to communicate with others, how to dress, how to talk.” More than 90% of STEP’s operating expenses are covered by revenues from their contract packaging and assembly services.

“We honor these employers who were willing to think outside the box and offer opportunity to more folks,” observed Lt. Governor Kleefisch, “Working together as government, employers, and workers, we can ensure every Wisconsinite who wants a job can find a job.”

Lead sponsor of the Wisconsin Job Honor Awards is Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup. Sponsors for the February 23 celebration included Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and event host WMC Foundation. “WMC is proud to sponsor the Wisconsin Job Honor Awards to shine a light on people and companies doing extraordinary things,” said Kurt R. Bauer, WMC President/CEO. “There are many similar scenarios from companies across the Badger State, and we are honored to help tell those stories.”

About the Wisconsin Job Honor Awards:

The Wisconsin Job Honor Awards celebrates Wisconsinites who have overcome significant barriers to employment, and the employers who hire them. WJHA’s mission is to rekindle hope and energize the work ethic across Wisconsin, through the celebration of a new kind of hero. 2016 Honoree videos can be viewed at

Lead sponsor of the Awards is ManpowerGroup, world leader in innovative workforce solutions.

About ManpowerGroup

ManpowerGroup® (NYSE: MAN) is the world’s workforce expert, creating innovative workforce solutions for more than 65 years. As workforce experts, we connect more than 600,000 people to meaningful work across a wide range of skills and industries every day. Through our ManpowerGroup family of brands – Manpower®, Experis®, Right Management ® and ManpowerGroup® Solutions – we help more than 400,000 clients in 80 countries and territories address their critical talent needs, providing comprehensive solutions to resource, manage and develop talent. In 2015, ManpowerGroup was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the fifth consecutive year and one of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies, confirming our position as the most trusted and admired brand in the industry. See how ManpowerGroup makes powering the world of work humanly possible:


About WMC

Founded in 1911, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) is the state’s chamber of commerce and largest business trade association representing more than 3,700 employers of every size and from every sector of the economy. The WMC Foundation is an integral part of WMC and is dedicated to building a better future for Wisconsin by providing business and economics education, workforce development initiatives, local chambers of commerce support, safety training programs and sharing business best practices.




Kyle Horn, Founder & Director

America’s Job Honor Awards

mobile: (515) 231-6039



Twitter: @jobhonor


Blog | Prescription Drug Abuse Deadlier Than Cocaine and Heroin Combined

More than half (56%) of all Americans say they or someone they know has abused prescription painkillers, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nearly 1 in 5 (16%) say they knew someone who died from abusing the drugs — 9% described the person as a family member or close friend.

Many people are surprised to learn that overdoses involving painkillers take the lives of more Americans than cocaine and heroin combined. According to The Clinton Foundation’s research, in the last 20 years the use of prescription stimulants increased from 5 million to 45 million. Even more alarming, the spending on prescription drug has increased a whopping $200 billion in just two decades.

The term “prescription drug” covers a wide array of substances, from tranquilizers to stimulants such as Adderall and painkillers like oxycodone. “Prescription” is the key word here. Doctors prescribe them to their patients with a recommended frequency for a set length of time.

But, most abusers aren’t getting their drugs from their doctor. More than 70% get the pills from a friend or relative, according to the National Institutes of Health. And here’s an eye-opener: More than 60% of teenage drug abusers rate “easy to get from parent’s medicine cabinet” as the most common reason for abusing drugs.

It’s clear that a critical step in tackling the problem of prescription drug abuse is to raise awareness that the misuse or abuse of prescription drugs can be as dangerous — or even more dangerous — as the use of illegal drugs. Parents need to learn to lock their medicine cabinets. And healthcare providers need to take caution not to over-prescribe the medication necessary to treat minor conditions — which will reduce the amount of unused medication sitting in medicine cabinets in American households.

We also need to educate parents and prescribers on warning signs of prescription drug abuse. Even brief interventions by primary care doctors have proven effective in reducing or eliminating substance abuse in people who abuse drugs but are not yet addicted to them.

There are a variety of signs and symptoms that may indicate abuse of prescription medications. While the actual symptoms will depend upon the type of drug used, some symptoms that are common to all abused substances include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability and hostility
  • Anger or angry outbursts
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Poor judgment
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • “Doctor shopping”
  • Frequent trips to the ER with various somatic complaints
  • Inconsistent answers to questions posed by physicians and family members about prescription usage

If you suspect addiction, reach out for help. The trained clinicians at Meta House will work with you to assess the situation and give your friend or loved one the help they need to take the first step in battling their addiction.

Blog | Women are more likely to be addicted to painkillers than men

Women more likely to be addicted to painkillers then men

Addiction to prescription painkillers is on the rise — especially for women. A  study of 500 patients in Canada found that 52% of women cited doctor-prescribed painkillers as their first contact with opioids, compared with 38% of men. The women also reported higher rates of heroin use.

Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent uncovered similar findings. The CDC reported that prescription painkiller overdoses killed five times more women in 2010 than in 1999. Nearly 6,600 women died from a painkiller overdose in 2010, or about 18 per day. Every three minutes, a women goes to the emergency department for prescription painkiller misuse.

Of course, prescription painkillers can be an effective way to manage pain. To be safe, there are some things you should do if they’re prescribed to you:

Talk with your doctor before taking prescription painkillers. Let him or her know if there are factors that could increase the chance of you becoming addicted — such as if you or a family member has struggled with addiction, if you have a history of childhood trauma, or have a mental health condition.

Use painkillers exactly as prescribed. Use prescription drugs as only directed by your doctor. Never increase the number of pills you take or the frequency with which you take them without consulting your doctor first.

Lock the medicine cabinet. Keep the prescription painkillers in a secure place where they can’t be accessed those who might abuse them – such as kids and young adults. When you’ve finished our treatment, properly dispose of any leftover medication.

Know the warning signs: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that people who have a drug abuse issue tend to:

  • Spend a significant amount of time thinking about drugs
  • Try to stop using drugs, and find that they cannot
  • Need drugs in order to feel good or have a good time
  • Use drugs while angry
  • Make mistakes at work or school due to drug use
  • Hoard drugs, in order to avoid running out of them

Seek addiction treatment. If you find that you need to take more of the drug to feel results, “doctor shop” to get additional prescriptions, or are experiencing any of the other warning signs listed above, reach out for professional help from an addiction treatment center. Breaking free of prescription drug addiction takes much more than willpower. Fortunately, counseling and treatment can improve the chances of successfully overcoming your addiction.

Meta House Featured in Milwaukee County DHHS Segment

“Heroin/ Opioid Abuse has a devastating impact. Learn the new approaches to guide recovery in this interview with Matt Drymalski, Ph.D., Psychologist, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, featuring Meta House, Inc. an AODA treatment program helping women overcome addiction.”

-Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services

View the video here.

Meta House Primary Care Physician Named a 40 Under 40

A partnership established in 2015 with Milwaukee Center for Independence created the opportunity for Meta House to open an on-site primary care clinic for clients. Not only does the clinic minimize the time women and families spend away from treatment, but it also addresses the wide-reaching community health concern of unnecessary emergency room visits. Spearheading this initiative at Meta House is Dr. Rosalyn McFarland. We’re thrilled to share that she is a recipient of this year’s Milwaukee Business Journal 40 Under 40 award.

More information is available here.

Meta House featured by The University of Pennsylvania Center for High Impact Philanthropy…

Lifting the Burden of Addiction: Q&A with Amy Lindner, President & CEO of Meta House

Client Daughter

Taken from The University of Pennsylvania Center for High Impact Philanthropy Blog

September 24, 2015

Amy Lindner is the President & CEO of Meta House, an organization that provides substance use treatment for low-income women in Milwaukee and a wide range of support services for both the women and their children. We recently featured Meta House’s residential program in our guide, Lifting the Burden of Addiction. Here, Ms. Lindner talks to the Center about what makes Meta House’s programming so effective, and how donors can help.

Center: There are hundreds of treatment programs all over the country. How does Meta House fit into the treatment landscape, and what makes your services helpful for the population you serve?

At Meta House, we provide treatment that is specific to the needs of women with substance use disorders. Research and our 50 years of experience have shown us that women do better in women-only treatment, in part because men can be, at best, an enormous distraction for women trying to heal from both from their substance use disorders and trauma. Also, engaging women in treatment usually requires engaging their families as well. It is common to see programs telling people to focus on themselves in treatment, but this approach doesn’t work for women, who are usually caretakers in their families. Oftentimes, women will only agree to residential treatment if they know that their family will be taken care in the meantime. In addition, women who are mothers are typically more committed to their recovery when the importance of their role as a parent is incorporated into treatment. Meta House was one of the first treatment centers in the country to allow children to stay in treatment with their mothers, and we offer a range of services for our clients’ children. We have found that this approach works to keep women in treatment and focused on their recovery.

Additionally, the vast majority of our clients have suffered physical, emotional, or sexual trauma, and Meta House’s treatment approach and staff are very sensitive to that. For example, if a woman refuses to do a kitchen chore because she was previously assaulted in a kitchen, we will work with her to choose a different chore, instead of chastising her for being lazy or uncooperative. Furthermore, instead of imposing our own goals on a woman in treatment, we get to know her early and help her to identify her own priorities. Instead of shaming a woman for her life choices, which has been a common approach to treatment in other programs, we encourage her by emphasizing her strengths as a person and the progress she makes in treatment. As staff, we are not better than our clients. If anything, we are privileged to be able to help them.

Center: The women who receive treatment at Meta House often face difficult life circumstances, but we’ve heard many success stories as well. Can you provide our readers with one example? 

One of our staff’s favorite success stories is that of a woman who came to Meta House when she was four weeks pregnant. At the time, she was in opiate withdrawal and had recently spent time in a violent women’s shelter. She couldn’t provide adequate care for her eight-year-old daughter, so she sent her daughter to live with a family member. This client ended up staying in our residential program for a year, during which time she gave birth to a healthy baby and quit smoking. She also voluntarily ended an abusive 19-year relationship after realizing that she could be independent. Eventually she got her other daughter back in her care. Today, she continues to follow up with us through outpatient treatment. Her life has completely changed for the better.

Center: What’s the one thing you wish donors knew about this field?

That people can and do change, and that their dollars can change the lives of women, children, and entire families. We have seen women break patterns of addiction and abuse/neglect that extend back for generations before them. We have seen their recovery completely change the lives of their children and their grandchildren for the better. We have seen women who come from the most devastating circumstances recover and become positive forces for change in their community, including many who now work for Meta House to help other women and families make those changes for themselves. It can take time and patience to overcome all of these barriers and make these kinds of changes. But it happens all the time in the work that we do.

Center: What could Meta House accomplish with an increase in philanthropic funding?

Wow, that’s a hard question – there are so many things we could do! Several immediate items come to mind. One would be to increase clients’ length of stay in residential treatment. Right now, our local county’s payments for residential treatment stop after 75 days. We do our best to keep a client for at least three months, but research suggests that staying in treatment for at least six months is often best. After the 75 days are up, to keep a client in residential treatment for as long as possible, we have to get creative with “braiding” other different sources of funding. Federal dollars to programs like Meta House have been shrinking in recent years and county dollars have been outright plummeting. Therefore, additional philanthropic capital would allow us to extend clients’ length of stay closer to the six-month mark, thereby increasing their chances of recovery.

Another change would be expanding our Child & Family Team of therapists and parenting specialists so we can provide more support for Meta House families. We have found that their work is crucial to healing the entire family unit and supporting long-term change for both our clients and their children.

We would also upgrade some of our facilities, such as installing hygienic stainless steel countertops in the residential kitchens, updating key locks with card access, and adding more lights in the parking lot for security purposes. Some of these changes may seem small, but they can make a big difference to our operations and the families we serve.

Read our complete profile on Meta House, or download our full guidance on substance use disorders, Lifting the Burden of Addiction.

View the article in context here.

Meta House VP of Operations Named A Milwaukee Business Journal 2015 CFO of the Year

Taken from The Milwaukee Business Journal (article here).

Milwaukee Business Journal selects 2015 CFO of the Year winners

The names of their companies and organizations may be well-known in southeastern Wisconsin or in some instances, around the world, yet their own names usually are lesser known. These are the 14 winners selected for the Milwaukee Business Journal’s annual CFO of the Year awards.

From large corporations like A.O. Smith Corp. (John Kita) in Milwaukee, to small private firms like TLX Technologies LLC (Katrina Goetz), of Pewaukee, or nonprofits like Next Door Foundation (Laurie Oryall) in Milwaukee, and Meta House (Bill Gollmar), these chief financial officers often maintain low-key profiles within their organizations. And that’s exactly why we launched this program in 2008 — to recognize CFOs who play vital roles in the success of their businesses or organizations as well as make valuable contributions to their profession and communities. Most CFOs work behind the scenes yet are major players in company mergers and acquisitions, working closely with banks and lenders to balance the books, and also wear multiple hats as they oversee human resources, information technology or other company functions.

As in years past, our winners were nominated by colleagues and friends based on their wide range of experience, commitment, character and value to their organizations. Our group of judges pored over dozens of nominations, narrowing the field to the final 14 winners. All winners will be profiled in the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Oct. 9 print edition and will be honored the same day at an awards luncheon in downtown Milwaukee.

Here is a list of the CFO of the Year award winners for 2015:

Publicly Held Companies
▪Lisa Cieslak, GMR Marketing, New Berlin
▪John Kita, A.O. Smith Corp., Milwaukee

Large Private Companies ($250 Million+)
▪Michael Carter, Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee

Medium Private Companies ($50 Million – $250 Million)

▪Brian Brenegan, Mortara Instrument Inc., Milwaukee
▪Tim Preuninger, Gehl Foods, Germantown

Small Private Companies (Less Than $50 Million)
▪Michael Franz, R&R Insurance Services Inc., Waukesha
▪Katrina Goetz, TLX Technologies LLC, Pewaukee
▪Jason Westhoff, Cousins Subs, Menomonee Falls

Nonprofit Organizations
Bill Gollmar, Meta House Inc., Milwaukee
▪Laurie Oryall, Next Door Foundation, Milwaukee
▪Ken Robertson, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee
▪Mike Wamser, Wisconsin Humane Society, Milwaukee

▪Ryan O’Desky, Herzing University, Menomonee Falls

Professional Services
▪Tammy Hofstede, Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants (WICPA), Waukesha