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Gateway Manager Named Advocate of the Year

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UW Health Gateway Recovery manager Michael WaupooseMADISON – It was Gateway Recovery manager Michael Waupoose's (pictured) commitment to providing culturally competent care that convinced Michael Kemp to nominate Waupoose for the Harold E. Hughes Advocate of the Year award.

The award is presented to an Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) member in recognition of outstanding public advocacy for addiction professionals and the clients they serve. Hughes, who was governor of Iowa from 1963 to 1969 and served the state as a senator from 1969 to 1975, was a recovering alcoholic and ardent supporter of addiction treatment and recovery programs.

Kemp, an addiction counselor at Winnebago Mental Health Institute, serves on NAADAC's Public Policy Committee, which votes on the Advocate of the Year award. He's known Waupoose for much of his 24-year career in alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) services and says his support for providing treatment that takes into account a patient's cultural roots has been unwavering.

"He was one of the first voices I heard to really challenge the establishment," Kemp says. "He continues to voice the notion that we're becoming more culturally diverse. I see him as a leader in Wisconsin in reminding us that we need to be culturally sensitive (with addiction treatment)."

At UW Health's Gateway Recovery Clinic Waupoose is responsible for operations and program design. He is also involved in many statewide addiction initiatives and points to his work with Wisconsin's State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Cultural Diversity Committee, which he chairs, as a source of particular pride.

"We're responsible for taking a look at diversity issues and making sure attention is being paid to communities of color, people with disabilities, LGBT communities," he says. "I hope I've been able to have an influence on policy and the work of the state as it relates to substance abuse in these communities. It's really rewarding and exciting. I love doing it."

Initially, Waupoose's professional inclinations had nothing to do with his current position. He enrolled in the Air Force in his early 20s and became an electronics technician. That line of work grew unappealing, but the Air Force provided him an opportunity to get training in addiction counseling.

Leaving the Air Force after eight years, Waupoose managed an inpatient program in the North Carolina Department of Corrections and later worked with the Menominee Nation, a northern Wisconsin Indian tribe of which he is a member.

"It was the first time I'd really been immersed in the culture," says Waupoose, who was raised off the Menominee Reservation but visited often as a child. "I witnessed the devastation and the destruction that addiction does in the Indian communities. I started understanding what has happened to Indian People over generations, how generational oppression translates into addiction and other social problems."

Graduate studies brought Waupoose to Madison and led to his association with UW Health. He and his counselors embrace a cognitive behavioral approach to treatment, one that teaches patients to assess their reactions to adverse situations and make wise choices, and of late have integrated mindfulness-based stress reduction in their sessions.

"What we try to do is guide patients in understanding what treatment means for them and what broader path they can take," Waupoose says. "Ultimately we support the decisions they want to make about their health and about their substance addiction."

Group therapy is also an effective way to combat the isolation of addiction, Waupoose says.

"(Patients) push a lot of people away and they get to be very alone. There is a lot of shame that goes along with being an addict. Being in group helps to work through that. There's something valuable in getting feedback from someone who has been there and done that."

Waupoose received the Advocate of the Year award in Washington, D.C., and Kemp was on hand to see it.

"It was an honor to nominate him," Kemp says. "For a moment on stage Wisconsin shined, and I hoped it inspired people. Michael represented Wisconsin really well and it was really cool to be able to look out at the Capitol Building while Michael was talking."
 

Date Published: 07/14/2009

News tag(s):  psychbehavioral health

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