New proposed plan to help La Crosse County drug addicts recover

There’s a new plan being proposed to help drug addicts in La Crosse County successfully detox and recover from opioid and methamphetamine addiction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Wisconsin had a 109 percent increase in emergency room visits from opioid last year.

With opioid overdoses increasing both statewide and in La Crosse County last year, many officials are asking what can be done to help.

The answer, at least in La Crosse County, may be a peer-run respite center called the Lighthouse Project.

Cheryl Hancock, executive director of Coulee Council on Addictions, said, “This would help save people’s lives.”

Hancock said many meth and opioid users don’t have the proper support to successfully stop using drugs.

“Unfortunately what happens is if they are withdrawing and having those terrible both emotional and physical symptoms the only way to overcome that is to use or to be in a supportive atmosphere,” Hancock said.

Project lighthouse would be a four-to five-bedroom residence where former drug users would help people detox.

“They can share with that individual that they’ve been there, they clearly understand what they’re going through and let me help you with these next steps,” Hancock said.

Recovering addicts would get to stay in the house for five to seven days, After that, Lighthouse staff would help place them in a more long-term recovery program.

“Many programs require that you have at least two to three days of sobriety to get into residential or inpatient treatment,” Hancock said.

Scott Mihalovic, the board president for the Lighthouse Project, said there’s no program like this in the community to help addicts get sober.

“We want someone to have that chance for recovery. Too many times in our communities when people are ready for help there are too many road blocks and they end up right back where they started,” Mihalovic said.

That is why both he and Hancock want this project to become a reality.

“People deserve to be helped especially when they’re struggling with something like this disease,” Hancock said.

Project Lighthouse is hoping to open that residence within the next year or so, but they still need to determine a location.

They estimate the program will cost about $220,000 a year and they’re currently seeking donations from businesses and the community.

If you would like to learn more about the project or are interested in donating, you can email Mihalovic at

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