Opioid epidemic continues to grow in Wisconsin despite measures

01-30-2017 Posted in Addiction, drug abuse, opioids, Substance Abuse, Treatment

From “wonder drug” to life-threatening substance, opioids have crossed all boundaries to reach epidemic levels in the United States. With the problem rising alarmingly, the federal agencies are now trying to deal with it in several possible ways. In January 2017, Governor Scott Walker called a special legislative session to pass a dozen additional bills to combat opioid addiction in Wisconsin. However, social justice groups and civil rights advocates objected to the move, saying that it was not enough to address the state’s growing opioid epidemic.

According to the critics, the state needs to consider the opioid abuse problem as a full-blown epidemic. Despite the state legislators passing almost 20 bills to curb opioid addiction over the past three years, opioid abuse still continues to kill hundreds of people in Wisconsin.

The governor called a special session to pass a set of proposals based on the recommendations by his task force, headed by the Representative John Nygren and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Included in the proposals are measures such as: creating rural treatment programs, allocating $2 million annually toward treatment programs, providing immunity for people reporting overdoses, creating recovery charter school for high school students struggling with addiction, allowing school nurses to administer Narcan, funding additional treatment and diversion alternative programs and allowing first responders to carry overdose antidotes.

Expressing concerns over the prevalent opioid crisis in the state, Walker said that it is not someone else’s problem. He also said that he has directed the state agencies to ramp up the state’s response to opioid overdoses.

Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic continues to grow

While the state legislators in Wisconsin continue to stress that there is no magic solution to stop opioid abuse, the public outcry demanding more action from the state to deal with the opioid epidemic is also rising correspondingly.

As per the state data, between 2013 and 2015, 1,524 people in Wisconsin succumbed to an opioid-related overdose, as compared to 614 people who died in 2015. According to the most recent figure, 540 people died of opioid-overdose in the state during the first nine months of 2016.

What critics have to say

As per Jon Peacock, research director at the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, though the special legislative session by the governor is a step in the right direction, it falls short of what is required to make a major dent in the prevalent opioid problem in the state. According to Robert Kraig, executive director of Wisconsin Citizen Action, a health advocacy group, the new bills spend more on drug agents than screening.

Attorney General Schimel, who is heading an awareness campaign, “Dose of Reality”, said that people in Wisconsin have not paid much attention to the opioid issue so far, and now it is threatening to overwhelm the state.

Some additional measures by the state

Meanwhile, the state will witness the launch of an improved prescription drug monitoring program that the state health professionals will be required to use effective April 1, 2017. The new program allows for a collaboration between the individuals involved in prescribing and dispensing and the law enforcement agencies. They will be required to share the data that could help identify opioid abuse patterns and possible criminal activities.

Effective April 2017, health care professionals will be required to check the database, which is the result of Representative Nygren’s Hope Agenda and Walker’s task force on opioid abuse, before writing or filling a prescription. The newly enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program went live on Jan. 17, 2017.

Road to recovery

If you or someone you know is fighting an addiction to opioids, it is time to seek professional support at a certified facility and start the path to sobriety. At the 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline, we can help you find the best treatment centers in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5607 or chat online with our representatives to know about the finest inpatient drug abuse treatment centers and outpatient drug abuse treatment centers near you.