Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Vin Baker speaks about substance abuse

Former Milwaukee Bucks player says addiction should be treated as a disease
Courtesy of Winnebago County Overdose Facility Review Team — Former Milwaukee Bucks forward Vin Baker speaks at the “We Heart You: Recovery in Our Community” event at the Culver Family Welcome Center March 15.

Former Milwaukee Bucks forward Vin Baker spoke about reducing the stigma around substance abuse disorders at the “We Heart You: Recovery in Our Community” event March 15 at the Culver Family Welcome Center.

Baker, a former NBA All-Star and gold medal-winning Olympian, said that he aimed to educate the community and remind people that addiction is a disease and should be treated as such.

“Hope plays an instrumental role in our commitment to our work, healing and sobriety,” Baker said at the event hosted by the Winnebago County Overdose Fatality Review Team (OFR). “The reason I’m here is because we all matter. I’m here to help break the silence and to remove the stigma.”

More than 370 people attended the second edition of “We Heart You: Recovery in Our Community,” which hoped to break the silence of addiction in the community and to foster connections to addiction resources offered by Oshkosh area organizations.

At the event, state and county officials, community members and those currently in recovery shared their experiences surrounding substance abuse.

Winnebago County Executive Jon Doemel said events like this show that there is not one path for recovery and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

“It’s amazing to know how many organizations are working together on the opioid crisis we are facing,” Doemel said. “It highlights how people can not only abstain from use, but also find recovery and service work as well. Those with lived experience are a crucial piece in this effort. Events like these remove the stigma, creating an environment where more people are willing to step up and tell their stories.”

According to the Winnebago County OFR Team, the idea for “We Heart You” came from conversations with members of the community who are in recovery and their aspiration to promote the idea that addiction is a disease.

Winnebago County OFR Project Manager Jennifer Skolaski said she wants people to know that they don’t have to suffer through substance abuse alone.

“Our community has so many wonderful resources ready to assist you and your loved ones,” Skolaski said. “Take the first step knowing that we want you to get well to be well.”

The Winnebago County OFR Team urges residents to call 211 or text their zip code to 898211 to get connected to resources in the area if someone is struggling with substance abuse. Winnebago County Public Health offers additional resources such as free Narcan and other harm reduction materials at their Oshkosh location at 112 Otter Ave. Members of the public can visit for more information.

UWO students can contact the UW Oshkosh Police Department at 920-424-1212 or by visiting the lower level of Radford Hall for resources to help someone who is dealing with substance abuse issues. In 2022, UWO installed Naloxone rescue boxes around campus containing Narcan and other resources that can be used to help someone who is having a medical emergency.

“Being challenged in life is inevitable,” Baker said. “We will fall down. We’re going to face adversity. But being defeated is optional.”

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