A lawmaker in Wisconsin whose own daughter is struggling with a heroin addiction introduced a bill designed to fight the drug. Representative John Nygren’s 24 year old daughter was sentenced to a year and a half in prison because of her issues with heroin use. Nygren’s own experience with a daughter coping with heroin addiction has led him to create proposals that would make it easier to keep track of the drugs and prevent heroin overdoses. According to Nygren, the four bills he has proposed are only the beginning of the fight against a growing problem in the state of Wisconsin.
In addition to his own personal family problems with heroin, Nygren states that data from a national survey shows that more than 160,000 adults in Wisconsin reported using heroin in the past year. He said even business owners are frustrated with their inability to find employees that can pass a drug test. These issues point to a growing drug epidemic in the state that Nygren hopes to combat with his recent proposals. His bills include measures that would require people picking up opioid prescriptions to show identification and limit immunity for people who call 911 to report an overdose. The bills would also make it easier to drop off narcotics at community drug disposals and allow more paramedics to administer Narcan, a drug that counters the effects of a heroin overdose. Nygren hopes to create more ways to combat abuse of the drug including more alternatives for addiction treatment in rural areas.
Wisconsin law enforcement officials have said they are seeing a rise in property crimes and prostitution as ways for addicts to raise money to purchase heroin. Prescription opiates are one of the gateway drugs leading to heroin abuse and Nygren’s bill requiring identification will help keep track of where the prescription drugs go. A recent investigative series in Wisconsin revealed that deaths related to heroin overdose rose 50 percent in the state to nearly 200 people during the past year. There has also been an increase in heroin-related arrests and drug seizures in recent years making it a drag on the state’s economy and workforce.
The Wisconsin department of justice launched a campaign against heroin addiction website, TV ads, posters, radio ads and YouTube videos. One of the TV ads includes Nygren who speaks openly about his daughter’s heroin addiction and how her story proves that the drug is accessible even in small towns. The department also set aside funds for local community efforts to combat the growing heroin addiction problem in the state.
At the news conference where Nygren announced the proposals, a speaker named Douglas Darby described his experience as a heroin addict. He served three years in prison for a few pharmacy robberies to support his addiction. Darby says that his addiction began long before he even started using heroin. He used prescription pills and had a marijuana addiction before eventually becoming a junkie. Darby backs the legislation created by Nygren and stated that it was necessary for the community to fight the issues of heroin addiction that are growing in Wisconsin.
Although fighting the increase in heroin abuse in the state of Wisconsin will take more than the measures set up by Represetative Nygren, they are the beginning of an effort to change a dangerous trend. The rise in heroin overdoses and rates of addiction to the drug cause major concern for the state that needs a clean and sober workforce. With stricter laws to prevent abuse of the drug, Wisconsin can hopefully prevent a younger generation from experiencing addiction.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.