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Milwaukee County gets money to fight pain killer addiction

Robyn Ellis says when her mom died, she became addicted to pain killers in high school, and it strained her relationships with family.

"There was a lot of secrets," Ellis said. "A lot of lies. A lot of distrust, so it made it hard to come home."

She became pregnant at 18, and the state took her child away at four-years-old.

"Back when I was using, I was physically there, but I wasn't present, so she was really used to doing a lot without me."

Ellis got her daughter back after going through family drug treatment court, one of the programs granted with additional funding Monday. Ellis says without the program she wouldn't have a relationship with her daughter today.

"I don't think I would be a parent," Ellis said. "I wouldn't be the parent I am today."

Ellis is one of 48 people to go all the way through the program since 2011. County Executive Chris Sbele says court is often the governments only chance to help addicts.

"Usually because addiction has gotten to a point where someone has committed a crime, or drives impaired."

He says the support system participants get is critical.

"Our focus there is not just punishment," Abele said. "Our focus is about public safety and empowerment, and we want to help break the cycle of addiction."

He says $2.2 million will go a long way in putting more families together.

The grant money is available right away. There is a bill in the statehouse to expand family drug treatment court. It has passed the senate and is now in the state assembly.

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