Wisconsin Sees Multiple Efforts To Battle Opioid Abuse

State To Receive Nearly $4M From CDC Over 4 Years


In less than a week, Wisconsin has seen efforts at both the state and federal level to fight drug abuse. Tuesday, Republican state Rep.John Nygren introduced more anti-heroin legislation. And ast Friday, the federal government acknowledged heroin’s link to prescription drug abuse by awarding prevention grant money to the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is giving Wisconsin more than $930,000 for each of the next four years to prevent abuse of opioid painkillers. It’s one of 16 CDC grants to states to combat what the agency calls an epidemic of prescription drug overdoses.

“Since 2008, more people in Wisconsin die from drug poisoning than from car crashes,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. “So we all think about car crashes as being deadly and such a big cause of death — and they are dangerous — but drug poisoning has passed those as a cause of death.”

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McKeown said that in 2013 there were 843 drug overdose deaths. Almost half were related to prescription drugs. She said some of the federal grant money will be used to improve Wisconsin’s prescription drug monitoring program. It allows doctors, pharmacists and police to track the amount of drugs prescribed to a patient.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said Thursday that to win the fight against heroin and prescription drug abuse, the state has to focus on prevention but questioned whether Wisconsin has the ability to treat the rapidly escalating number of opiate addicts.

“As we’ve seen the administrations of Narcan go up and up dramatically we’re still actually seeing the number of deaths climbing,” he said, referring to a medication used when someone overdoses that reverses the effects of opioids. “So in terms of the progress we’re making we’re working our way around the racetrack in a Model T and the problem has shot past us in a Ferrari.”