The heroin epidemic in Wisconsin

We want to open today’s blog post with a story. This narrative rings true for many struggling young adults in Wisconsin.

In 2006, an incoming out-of-state Wisconsin student commenced her first semester of college at a local university. What many deem “the best years of your life” quickly became an ominous journey for this particular individual. The student was struggling with withdrawal from opioids. In fact, she was detoxing from her Oxycontin addiction for the first time.

It wasn’t the most thrilling college experience. The struggling student had limited resources at the time, too. Nonetheless, addiction and college was a real thing, and she needed to cope with her dependency issues before securing her degree.

It wasn’t long before the young student dropped out of school. She struggled to obtain her degree over the next several years; many attempts were made. During her battle, the student turned to prescription drugs and heroin.

This story ends positively. In what ultimately became the young woman’s last two semesters of school, she finally found sobriety. She also used her understanding of dependency to help build support and services for other local Wisconsin students dealing with recovery.

The drug problem in Wisconsin

Contrary to popular belief, Wisconsin is not immune to the nationwide heroin epidemic that is infecting several cities across the country. The above story is proof of the problem, and it is prevalent among different demographics.

According to the Department of Justice, Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories uncovered over 1,000 heroin cases in 2014. In 2008, laboratories saw fewer than 300 cases. Ultimately, there has been a 286 percent rise in heroin abuse between 2002 and 2013.

A legislative solution

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin State Senate unanimously passed the newest set of bills in Rep. John Nygren’s Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education legislation. Nygren’s own child has struggled with heroin addiction, and much of his platform addresses the growing problem. The bills are among many heroin-related proposals that Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law.

The laws address many facets of the growing heroin epidemic. For example, one law provides criminal immunity to those who call authorities after witnessing an overdose. They also allow pharmacies to give patients naloxone, a medication that prevents overdose, without a prescription. Most importantly, the legislative proposals create treatment programs in several areas of the state.

To learn more about the pending laws, speak with a local attorney.

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