New bills to fight heroin abuse in Wisconsin
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
GREEN BAY, WI --Four new bills are introduced in Wisconsin Friday to fight what law enforcement calls a heroin epidemic. State Representative John Nygren, who openly speaks about his daughter's addiction to heroin, is leading the charge.
Police are seeing a surge in heroin overdoses in Northeast Wisconsin. Each year the number of cases doubles. At the Brown County Sheriff's Department, law enforcement and community leaders show their support for new legislation to fight the drug.
"It affects our communities, our families, our workplace and it affects our budget, not only from a state level but a local level as well, putting a drain on our resources," said Nygren.
The first bill would help track prescription pills by requiring everyone to show photo ID to pick up at a pharmacy. Police say 85 percent of prescription drug addicts turn to heroin.
"This is really something we have to clamp down on because this is where we usually see new people coming in to this addiction," said Lt. Dave Poteat with the Brown County Drug Task Force.
Next a bill to facilitate accepting narcotics at prescription drug-take-back drives, so drugs don't fall into the wrong hands.
Then, a 911 "Good Samaritan"law, that would provide limited immunity to someone reporting an overdose.
Finally, a law to allow all first responders to adminster Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.
Recovering addict Douglas Darby of Green Bay says he owes his life to getting caught, and spending three years in prison. He was released nine months ago.
"I was broken by this addiction. I didn't care about the consequences. In fact, I didn't think I was going to live to see 27, 28 years old," said Darby.
Darby was able to get treatment for his addiction through the Department of Corrections.
"The measures being taken here today are in need. I'm telling you this from an addict's standpoint," said Darby.
Nygren says the four bills he introduced are just the beginning in the fight against heroin use.
"None of these bills are silver bullets, there is more to come including more alternatives for treatment in rural, underserved areas," he said.
Last week Nygren and the state Justice Department kicked off a major campaign with TV and radio ads to raise awareness among Wisconsin's youth, those most at risk of addiction.