Attorney General discusses Wisconsin’s growing heroin problem

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Rising heroin use in the State of Wisconsin has law enforcement, local health departments and doctors teaming up to find a solution.

Tuesday and Wednesday alcohol and drug abuse experts and community leaders from around the state were in Eau Claire to share ideas and discuss potential solutions to substance abuse challenges at an annual conference.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says Wisconsin’s heroin use isn't just something that happens in bigger cities, more cases have been happening in rural communities too.

“It's a situation where 5-10 years ago it was prescription drug abuse as the supply of those substances became more restricted the use of heroin increased,” Dr. Brian Ewert, Executive Director of Marshfield Clinic said.

Ewert says as communities cracked down on prescription drug abuse, heroin use increased.

“It’s completely unregulated and the person using it is unaware of the purity and impurity of it,” Ewert said.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says educating the public on heroin has been at the forefront over the past year for the State Department of Justice but education is only one piece of the puzzle to combat the problem.

Van Hollen says law enforcement and the medical community also play a large role in making sure drug users get the help they need to stay clean.

“They are able to work with law enforcement to educate the public about the dangers and focus on individual cases so people get the help they need so they don't get out and commit further crimes,” Van Hollen said.

In addition to education efforts more than a dozen counties in the state including five counties in our area have been awarded grants to help keep drug abusers and non-violent offenders from re-offending.

Van Hollen says these programs improve public safety while also meeting the needs of people with a history of substance abuse.

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