Lawmakers, law enforcers and counselors are trying to turn the tide on heroin and prescription drug abuse. To do that, they’re joining forces.
Heroin and opioid abuse are still on the rise, and Friday state and federal lawmakers met with leaders in law enforcement and treatment centers for a roundtable discussion to look at the big picture.
For Mandy Suthers, addiction is a sobering topic.
“We scratch tooth and nail for what we want when we’re using, and so when we’re sober we got to fight even harder to stay sober,” said Suthers, representing Darjune Recovery Support Services & Cafe.
“What we’re fighting for is a future for our kids, really,” State Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said.
Friday, Nygren met in a roundtable with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and leaders of area treatment centers who all want to do one thing: Help people recovering from addiction — and do it soon.
“If we don’t take care of our families and don’t take care of the children, we are going to continue to see the issues we’ve seen, and this epidemic’s going to continue to rise and it’s going to take control,” Alvarado, co-founder of Rise Together, a group that helps children and teens struggling with addiction.
The people here share the same passion for batting heroin and opioid addiction and are figuring out how they can do more.
“I hear kids saying that ‘I’m struggling with substance use but depression and anxiety and I would love if somebody would help me,’ but there’s no help. And I know some of those kids that we’ve been in front of are no longer breathing today,” Alvarado said.
“I’ve seen children before that, if I could, I would take them home with me, and I know that more likely than not that I will be arresting that person in 12 to 15 years. That’s heartbreaking for me and it should be for everybody else,” Lt. Matt Ronk from the Brown County Drug Task Force said.
Nygren says shifting the stigma from addicts to the drugs themselves can help the issue.
“Should there be a stigma on the addict himself or herself as they’re trying to get into recovery? I’m hoping not,” Nygren said.
The group agreed it’s important to get more resources, and that starts with funding. It’s hard to find money to help addicts recover.
Suthers hopes the people in this room can change that.
“I know there’s hope because I had hope and I still have it, so I’m going to keep fighting for them no matter what.”