NPR

For One Rural Community, Fighting Addiction Started With Recruiting The Right Doctor

While opioids get all the attention, rural communities struggle with substances like meth and alcohol too. One clinic is building up capacity to treat all of them, using both medicine and counseling.
Located in Northern Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior, Ashland, Wis. has had enough of substance abuse issue. NorthLakes Community Clinic brought in Dr. Mark Lim to start a team providing substance abuse and mental health services. Source: Derek Montgomery for NPR

Lindsay Bunker woke up from a nightmare.

The 32-year-old lives with her sixth-month-old daughter on the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin. She's struggled with addiction for over 10 years, mostly to heroin. Then came the nightmare: She dreamt two men were attacking her baby while she could think only about drugs.

"In my mind I was thinking, 'If I can just get one hit, if I can get one line, I can save her,'" she recalls, pausing before continuing, "I woke up and I was panicking. How can a mother think like that?"

It was a wake-up call. Bunker says she realized in that moment that heroin was "evil" and she resolved to get into treatment. In a lot of rural America, that's where the story could have ended.

Many rural communities lack basic resources available than in urban areas—as many as may live in counties that lack detoxification services, for example.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min read
Portraying Celia: The Role Of A Lifetime (Or Two)
How do you inhabit the world's most well-known Latin singer? For singers and actresses Aymée Nuviola and Jeimy Osorio, playing Celia Cruz meant staying in touch with pain, joy and destiny.
NPR5 min read
He's Trying To Fill In The Gaps On Google Street View — Starting With Zimbabwe
Not every corner of the world is yet on Google Street View. Tawanda Kanhema sees these gaps as a kind of digital divide, so he volunteers to photograph and upload some of the places left off the map.
NPR2 min read
For A Black Woman In The Military, Harassment Was Its Own Battle
At StoryCorps, retired Col. Denise Baken says the challenges she faced as both a woman and an African American in the Army weighed her down over time, mentally and physically.