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Cook County Connections: Cook County Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Program

Feb 17, 2023 08:51AM ● By Content Editor
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From Cook County, Minnesota - February 17, 2023
By: Alison McIntyre, Cook County Public Health and Human Services Director

In Cook County, the Public Health and Human Services department, in partnership with Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Program and community providers at Grand Portage Human Services and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, work to support individuals and families impacted by substance use disorder. 

People from all backgrounds experience addiction. While the initial choice to use a drug or alcohol is often voluntary, the powerful effects of addiction make it very hard to stop, even if someone wants to. When drugs or alcohol are used so often that they have significant negative effects on your life, making it unlivable to the quality it was before, this is called a substance use disorder. 

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping a friend or family member who is drinking too much, using drugs, or dealing with a mental illness, research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders. 

When a family member is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it can affect more than just the person in need of recovery. Evidence has shown that some people have a genetic predisposition for developing mental and substance use disorders and may be at greater risk based on environmental factors such as having grown up in a home affected by a family member’s mental health or history of substance use. Families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family. 

Family members may be more likely to notice when their loved ones are experiencing changes in mood or behavior. Being able to offer support, family members can connect those in need with treatment, resources, and services to begin and stay on their recovery journey. 

It is also important to remember that the unique challenges that come from helping a loved one with a mental or substance use disorder can be taxing, so caregivers should take steps to prioritize their own health as well. 

If you or someone you love is looking for support, contact the Wilderness Outpatient Treatment program at 218-387-3620, Grand Portage Human Services at 218‐475‐2453 or the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic at 218-387-2330. Find resources for prevention, treatment, and recovery from substance use disorder online at or  



Learn more about the Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Program and PHHS department at the February 21 PHHS Board Meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Cook County Commissioners Room. The meeting is available to live stream on the Cook County website at can also visit our website at, contact us via email at [email protected] or find us on Facebook @CookCountyPHHS or Instagram @cook_county_phhs to learn more about our work in supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of Cook County.  


County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.


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