In a bid to further the HOPE (Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education) agenda, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on April 9, 2018, signed two more bills into law – Assembly Bills 906 and 907. The new law is aimed at curbing the soaring rates of drug addiction in the state.
The first bill calls for the establishment of three separate grant programs, allocating millions of dollars for programs to treat drug addiction in prisons, and to intensify law enforcement efforts to investigate trafficking activities. The second bill is centered on spreading knowledge about addiction treatment among therapists, and allocates $250,000 to the University of Wisconsin System for increasing the number of graduate students studying to become mental health nurse practitioners. Besides, AB 907 also stresses on including drug abuse prevention in school curriculum.
Till date, Governor Walker has signed 30 bills into law for dealing with the opioid crisis. “Wisconsin is leading the nation when it comes to addressing opioid and heroin abuse. This nationwide epidemic knows no boundaries. By working with law enforcement officials, medical professionals, school districts and community members we can help Wisconsin families and our communities from the dangers of opioid abuse,” said Walker.
HOPE agenda is a brainchild of state Representative John Nygren. Over the years, Nygren has made tremendous efforts to fight the opioid crisis. He hopes that these bills will provide a perfect balance between enforcing the law and delivering justice with treatment and recovery. Experts say the Wisconsin Department of Justice will create two new attorney positions to assist district attorneys to prosecute drug-related crimes.
Just as in other parts of the country, the opioid epidemic has caused significant devastation in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), in 2016 alone, 827 people in the state died from drug overdoses involving prescription opioids. The number of overdose deaths is more than the causalities caused by car crashes statewide.
Combating opioid overdose menace
Studies suggest that an alarmingly large number of American adults are indulged in excessive use of prescription opioids. The country has woken up to the stark reality that overdoses of painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications have actually claimed more lives that guns or road rages. The need of the hour is to expand access to life-saving treatment and explore alternative options such as non-opioid medications and physical therapies to not only manage pain, but also thwart any possible risk of addiction.
The good thing is that opioid addiction can be treated with timely medical intervention. If a person is grappling with opioid use disorder, he/she should immediately seek professional help from a reputed addiction treatment provider. One should be aware of the fact that substance use disorders can have life-threatening consequences, if left untreated.
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