Ron works to address Wisconsin’s opiate epidemic


From Wisconsin Health News:

The next steps for the federal government to fight the opiate epidemic are to begin developing task forces and distribute grant funding included in a law approved last month, according to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Johnson said the federal government needs to make that money available to start funding different treatments and approaches to address the opiate epidemic.

“The next step is to get that grant money flowing, have it applied for, get these jurisdictions to start to utilize the money and start reporting back in what works and what doesn’t,” Johnson said in Hartland Monday.

Attorney General Brad Schimel, who joined Johnson, said the funding will provide resources to community agencies “that have innovative ideas to help us get out of this problem.”

“I’m thrilled that we’re going to have some resources that we can make competitively available to those organizations to do good work because we can’t just do this from law enforcement or EMS alone,” Schimel said. “We’re going to need the whole community involved.”

Schimel also said the Department of Justice is working to try to get a rebate for anti-overdose drugs used by law enforcement agencies. Earlier this year, DOJ negotiated a rebate for ambulance service providers.

“It’s great that those people are being brought back to life,” he said. “But we’ve got to really focus on the prevention side and stop more people from flowing into this problem.”

Schimel and Johnson were in Hartland as part of the opening of an exhibit in the Hartland Fire Department by Your Choice Prevention Education, a drug and alcohol awareness program, that featured a bedroom with “red flags” that could signal drug and alcohol abuse.

The event also featured an exhibit of 190 pairs of shoes representing the number of people who have died from overdoses in Waukesha County since 2012.

“Some are men, some are women; some are young, some are old; some are rich, some are poor,” said Julie Berg, whose son died in 2012 at the age of 25 from an overdose. “And the list goes on.”