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Those with substance use disorder facing challenges amid virus

Published Apr 1, 2020
By: Diane Behm

Lutheran Social Services asking for monetary donations, face masks

WAUKESHA — Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is asking for donations in response to the coronavirus, with Waukesha services specifically needing face masks and monetary donations.

The Genesis House is a supportive 12-bed Transitional Residential Treatment for men with substance use disorder. Residents typically stay between 30 to 180 days with nine hours of therapy a week while they work to transition back to independent living. Also needing donations is the Cephas House, which provides services to adult males referred through the Department of Corrections that have a history of substance use disorder.

Patrick Reilly, program supervisor at the Genesis House for LSS, said they have been responding to the coronavirus and its many challenges. He is unaware of a coronavirus case in their facilities.

“What we’ve been doing to the best of our abilities is following all CDC guidelines … but like any organization in our area, PPE is hard to come by,” Reilly said. Reilly said they are asking the community to donate 60 cloth masks, for both staff members and residents at the two houses.

One of the greater challenges the alcohol and drug treatment centers are dealing with is the lack of available community support meetings. Reilly said they support each individual on the path to recovery through outside support.

“What we’ve had to do with a lot of organizations is really embrace the Tele-Health or Zoom meetings … we’ve been able to put together a pretty good list of outside support meetings that our residents can be involved with,” he said.

Reilly said there couldn’t be a more difficult time for individuals to find sobriety than right now. “Purely the fact that they’re in treatment, I think is amazing … I don’t think the Zoom meetings are as effective as let’s say individual, and to be in the same room as someone, but I’d rather have that than none,” Reilly said.

Another challenge is boredom, which can be a trigger for individuals working towards sobriety. “Boredom and down time is dangerous for my threeyear- old, but it’s also extremely dangerous for alcoholics and drug addicts,” Reilly said.

LSS Response Fund

Katharine Foley, LSS advisor, public relations, said they are also looking for monetary donations towards their Response Fund, created in response to the coronavirus.

The LSS Response Fund helps counselors provide direct support to the over 5,000 people who rely on LSS, including families that may not have access to mental health counseling, addiction recovery, affordable housing, daytime shelter, food and more.

Foley said the LSS Response Fund helps with many of the needs they are working to solve.

“Some of the families just need a gas card so the parents can still work, or they need additional school supplies to help keep their kids busy,” she said. “For housing, if it is additional food for the week just to get by if they have to pay their rent check.”

The fund has a $25,000 fundraising goal set and has raised just under $5,000 so far.

To donate masks, Waukesha residents can sew cloth masks and donate them to either the Cephas House or the Genesis HouseTo donate cloth masks, people can email donorservices@lsswis. org.

To donate to the LSS Response Fund, people can visit lsswis.org/LSS/lssresponsefund. For questions related to services offered, people can call 414-246-2300.

“This is the safest place for people with a substance use disorder to be right now,” Reilly said.

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