BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) — Brown County leaders are looking to take a new step in fighting drug addiction and the stigmas that go with mental health and depression among kids.
When it comes to talking about tough stuff, like drugs, addiction, anxiety or depression, a lot of us don’t want to broach the subject.
But Douglas Darby and Anthony Alvarado do.
“If you go up there and you try to fake it ’til you make it, they’re going to be the first ones to see through you,” says Darby.
Darby and Alvarado are both in long-term recovery. Through their group, Rise Together, they now help others deal with and manage addiction and mental health issues.
“This isn’t me standing up there and saying that this is going to happen to you,” says Darby.
“If you drank a beer or smoked a joint, you’re going to grow up, put a needle in your arm and go to prison like I did. That isn’t the message here. The message here is saying that regardless of what you struggle with, you can ask for help at 13, 14, 15 years old,” says Darby.
The two men are known for their ability to truly connect with kids.
They travel the country to help not just at-risk, but all, youth. Darby says they’ve been recognized by the National Safety Council and the White House for their success in getting through to kids.
Now they want to do it right here at home in Brown County, where Darby grew up.
“That brings a certain level of credibility to it, authenticity to it,” says Brown County Supervisor Erik Hoyer.
After Rise Together approached the Brown County Board last fall, wanting to add to the efforts started through the D.A.R.E. Program, Hoyer has been trying to find a way to get Darby and Alvarado into middle and high schools county-wide. Rise Together says they could reach an estimated 49,000 students.
“I think it’s a program we all want. It’s just a matter of the costs, where they’re coming from and how we can kind of grow this relationship with Rise Together,” says Hoyer.
Wednesday night, the Human Services Committee planned to discuss ways to make it happen.
“Hopefully Brown County taking this step will just be another shining moment in saying regardless of the struggles Brown County is facing, we’re not going to run from them. We’re definitely not going to say that they’re not happening, but most importantly, we’re not just talking about it. We’re taking action,” adds Darby.