The Wisconsin Department of Justice says heroin use has risen dramatically throughout Wisconsin. What some used to think was a big city problem is now the drug of choice for young people in small towns in Central Wisconsin.
The Attorney General was in Wausau promoting the Fly Effect Campaign – an effort to prevent heroin abuse.
The face of heroin is changing. “That's the thing with this addiction. It is insidious. It's sneaky. It is an equal opportunity employer,” said Deborah Piskoty. She is the Clinic Director at Wausau Health Services.
Stories of heroin victims are plentiful. “Officer finds a female – 8 months pregnant – injecting heroin while she's sitting in her car. Teenager chases mother with a knife while she's high on drugs. Father reports 16 year-old son cooking and selling drugs,” said Wausau Police Chief Jeffrey Hardel. He read a list of recent reports and the stories went on.
The stories were also personal. “I'll never forget the day that Cassie told me she was addicted to heroin,” said Rep. John Nygren of Marinette. He has has fought a six-year battle to get his daughter clean. “I found her purple, needle still in her arm, and struggling to breathe,” said Nygren.
Now Nygren is joining Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to promote the Fly Effect Campaign, an effort to educate young people about the dangers of heroin.
“We have an exploding problem that we need to address,” said Van Hollen. According to Wausau Police, that problem got bigger as the state worked harder to fight prescription drug abuse. “What we have seen, most of the people that are using heroin have been using OxyContin. So they've been abusing prescription pills, which are narcotics,” said Wausau Police Chief Jeffrey Hardel.
Local treatment clinics are seeing younger patients. “This is a huge issue because we're looking at people coming into treatment at 10, started using at 10,11,12,13 years old and a real lack of skills, social skills, life skills,” said Piskoty.
Now a community effort is needed to fight the community epidemic.
If you need professional help, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
You can find out more about heroin abuse at TheFlyEffect.com.
Marathon County Alcohol and Other Drugs Partnership is holding an informational session about current drug trends at the Marathon County Public Library in downtown Wausau at 7 p.m. on October 8. You can find out about other upcoming programs at www.pushbackdrugs.com