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Wisconsin Panel Introduces New Plans To Fight Heroin Abuse And Opiate Addiction

At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, in the town of Raymond, Wisconsin, 911 was called by a family of a heroin overdose victim. The 20 year old woman had stopped breathing and began to turn blue. While on the phone with 911 dispatchers, the family was instructed to start CPR until first responders arrived. When the Racine County Sheriff's deputies arrived, they pulled out their new emergency overdose kit equipped with the “second chance drug” naloxone. The drug also known by its brand name Narcan was in the nasal spray form and the deputies administered the drug into the young woman's nose. Within a few minutes, she was conscious and talking with first responders about what she had taken before being taken away in an ambulance for further treatment at the hospital.

This is the second case in a month in Racine County that Narcan was administered by Racine County Deputies. Narcan reverses opiate overdoses by blocking the central nervous system from the effects of opiates. An overdose victim could be seconds away from death but as soon as the drug is administered, the reversing of the overdose begins. This gives the victim a second chance at life. Many first responders, family members and healthcare professionals hope that the overdose convinces addicts that it is time for a lifestyle change. When you are seconds away from death and brought back to life, there isn't much more you can do for a wake up call.  Of course it will not give every addict the motivation to stop using, but the drug will give fist responders the opportunity to save a persons life.

Racine county deputies and jail staff were equipped with the nasal form of Narcan in April of 2014 after Governor Scott Walker signed off on allowing first responders to administer naloxone as part of a package of bills called the Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education, or HOPE. "It is a lifesaving tool," Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said Thursday. "We would be foolish not to have it." Not only should law enforcement officers and first responders carry the medication, family members and caregivers of opiate addicts also should have the medication on hand and training on it, according to a recently released report from the Wisconsin State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. The report, researched over six months by a special committee for the state council, builds upon the HOPE legislation approved in the spring and outlines 36 recommendations to address heroin abuse throughout the state. "We don't want this to be just another report that just sits on a shelf," said Danielle Luther, one of the committee's four co-chairs and manager of substance abuse prevention at the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach.

The committee divided the recommendations into five categories, prevention, harm reduction, law enforcement, workplace and treatment. The overall goal of the hard reduction is to grab people where they are at and keep them alive and healthy long enough to get them into treatment.


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