LCO Reservation Panel Contemplates Painkiller Addiction Epidemic

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Prescription drug dispensers and drug enforcers gathered on the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) reservation, to try to figure out how to stop what they call the painkiller addiction epidemic.

The panel gathered at the LCO Convention Center, a place where tribal health director gaiashkibos says everyone knows someone who has died from a prescription drug overdose.

“We’re sick and tired of going to funerals and seeing the children that are left here behind, who are suffering. We want to stop this generational thing that seems to be going forward because…One time, we were a very health community.”

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Nine thousand people are enrolled members at LCO. But U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil of Madison says the abuse has no borders.

“I was just saying to someone the other day, but for Narconon – a shot you can administer – we would be stacking up bodies in Madison like cordwood.”

LCO’s health clinic is cracking down on the amount of painkillers being prescribed. In November, 25,000 opiate-based pills were prescribed. That number is now at 15,000. Wisconsin Health Department intercultural coordinator Gail Nahwahquah says the solution is up to each community.

“I’m so proud to stand here in front of you today and see this many people in a room, realizing that this is an issue that we need from our elders to the youngest in our community to talk about, and figure out: “How is it that we work on this?”

Prescription drug deaths are 50 percent higher among Native peoples than the general population.

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