Ho-Chunk Campaign Aims to Support People Struggling With Addiction

    WorakBugWith one slogan, Tena Quackenbush wants people to become aware that people with addictions are real, loving, caring people, who deserve to be treated with respect.
    Quackenbush developed the “StoptheStigma” movement and now she is spreading the news.

    She developed the awareness campaign after an incident she experienced on Facebook. She explained that she had a drug problem in the past, but the person responding to her post called her a druggie and a junkie.

    “I thought this is what the problem is,” Quackenbush said. “People are being labeled for being addicts. How can people be helped if people are labeling them, like they are diseased?”

    She shared her past and she knows how powerful and hard it is to stop.

    Quackenbush is a program manager with the Family Services Program of Ho-Chunk Nation Social Services. Her work with #StoptheStigma is on her own and has no connection with her employment.

    She said addiction is “cunning, baffling and powerful,” because it frequently takes over people’s lives.

    When people attack others because of their problem, it compounds the issue and makes it difficult for the person to get help to become drug free.

    “The stigma is part of the problem,” Quackenbush said. “The goal is to stop. There is a stigma of addiction. Druggies and junkies are humans, too. They are our brothers, sisters, children, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles. They all deserve love. We all have that right.” Anyone struggling with addiction may consider seeking an Intensive Outpatient Program that can help with their recovery. Or they may consider visiting a professional rehab center like Sober Living Los Angeles for treatment.

    “Stigmatized addiction” causes people to hide and they don’t come out and ask for help, she said. It’s everywhere you go, so people who have that label can’t find good jobs, housing, or many of the basic needs. 

    Her campaign coincides with the “We All Matter” campaign started by Curtis Redbird. It was started as a stop heroin action support group, where members can share their personal stories of addiction and overcoming the large challenges of being drug free.
    With Quackenbush’s campaign to stop the stigma of addiction, she has pulled out all stops. Bumper stickers and T-shirts have been produced and handed out and she hosted a booth at the Memorial Day Weekend Powwow in Black River Falls.

    The first event that she organized was a #StoptheStigma 5k run/walk on Saturday, May 27. The run/walk route was from the District 1 Community Center to the Powwow Grounds. There were 51 participants and participants displayed two banners. The first banner displayed “#StoptheStigma” and the second banner was in honor of Edward Nicholas, Mary Bird’s son who overdosed and died on Feb. 2 this year.

    Sunday night at the Memorial Day Weekend Powwow, a #StoptheStigma honor song was sung.

    “There were hundreds of people dancing to the song. Everyone was in tears,” she said. “It was in remembrance of everyone lost to addiction and those suffering active addictions.”

    On May 22, another event she organized was a prayer circle at the Mission Community Center. A fire was constructed and community members brought out lawn chairs to sit and participate in the prayers. There were 30 people in attendance.

    “Many people stood up and said a prayer for loved ones,” she said. “Many people cried.”

    Quackenbush intends to keep up intensity to bring about more awareness, to keep spreading the word and to work toward changing public perception.

    She has spoken to former Green Bay Packer running back Ahman Green and he is considering presenting the #StoptheStigma movement to his foundation and the NFL Foundation, but that is considered a future effort.

    Another effort Quackenbush has taken on is a powwow named the Wogixete Wi Powwow (Loving Us), set for August 12. It is planned to be in the Mission in Black River Falls, across from the church.

    “The Wogixete Wi Powwow is a community powwow to let all of our community members know we love them, bringing our people who are out there lost back to us,” Quackenbush said.

    The location is key because of its central location in the community.

    “The drum is sacred,” Quackenbush said. “The sound of the drum will radiate in every direction into the Mission, letting the people know we love them.”

    Quackenbush presented the idea at the District 1 Area Meeting and was approved funds to finance the event.

    “It was the Creator’s idea, which was put into her heart,” she said. “I was asking how we can bring our people back to us. Many people are in hiding, afraid to let other people know of their pain. I was asking how we can let everyone know that we love them.”