State News

More opioid reforms to become law, as Wisconsin leads most of the country in deaths

While officials around the state try to make headway against the growing opioid crisis, Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills into law in an attempt to tackle different facets of the issue.

Image By: Theda Berry

As a new federal report indicates troubling trends in Wisconsin’s fight against opioid abuse, Gov. Scott Walker signed two pieces of legislation into law to boost state support for crackdowns, recovery and education.

The first of the proposals signed into law will create a law enforcement grant program to target drug trafficking, substance abuse services for at-risk youth, as well as victim impact and family treatment panels.

A second seeks to eliminate the problem at the source by providing education and training to health care practitioners and social service workers in regards to the prescription practices and addiction treatment of opioids.

“Wisconsin is a national leader in addressing the opioid crisis, as we’ve signed 28 bipartisan bills into law so far,” Walker said in a press release. “But there’s more work to be done: too many Wisconsin families feel the painful effects of this crisis every day. Through the guidance and recommendations of the Task Force, we’ve created reforms that will open the door to the best treatment outcomes for patients and their families.”

The stream of reforms come as Dane County and dozens of other localities move forward in their lawsuits against opioid providers, arguing the drug companies inflicted serious harm on the public.

“The opioid epidemic has hit local communities hard across the United States, and Dane County is no exception,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This epidemic has strained our resources and has cost local communities across Wisconsin millions of dollars as we try to get people the treatment and recovery they so desperately need.”

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 2015 and 2016, Wisconsin experienced about a 40 percent increase in opioid deaths in general, a 30 percent increase in opioid prescription and over a 150 percent increase in synthetic opioid deaths, such as fentanyl.

Wisconsin’s trends in each of these categories topped almost every other state in the country.

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