Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel made a stop in Northeast Wisconsin Tuesday to talk about taking the next step in fighting the state’s prescription drug epidemic, partnering with businesses to help with the painkiller problem.
Bill Labine, the Executive Director of the Jackie Nitschke Center was happy that the Attorney General has been pushing for business to drug test for prescription drugs as well as illegal narcotics.
“This has been a tough topic to talk about, but it does affect everybody so it is great that public awareness is being raised,” said Labine, a drug counselor. “This is an epidemic, there have been a lot of deaths.”
Schimel visited with business leaders in Green Bay trying to form a partnership in an attempt to get narcotic users the help to better the work place, the community and help families.
“In most of the places where people work employees are like family and the employer doesn’t want to write them off because of a disease,” said Schimel. “If we can help someone with that disease early we can make Wisconsin healthy again.”
Schimel says that prescription drugs cost employers over $26 billion nationwide, and that tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin struggle with painkiller addiction.
Business owners were at WPS in Green Bay and say that businesses make an investment in their employees, they don’t want to lose them to this epidemic, they want their employees to go home safely to their loved ones.
“This effects all of our communities, not just our work life, but our communities as a whole,” said Barry McNulty a manager at We Energies.
The first step in the ‘Dose of Reality’ campaign was raising awareness, Schimel says that raising awareness has had an impact, and on drug take back day at the end of April, over 64,000 pounds was safely disposed of the highest total ever recorded for one day in the United States.
In Brown County over 2,000 pills were turned in, an undercover officer with the Brown County Task Force told Local 5 that is just a small percentage of the prescription drugs that are out in the community.
Drug Counselor Bill Labine said that painkillers get over subscribed, are easy to get and very accessible, but when they become unavailable to an addict that is when they turn to heroin.
He also said that it is key for businesses, teachers and people to help identify potential problems because it is best to help an addict early, before they detox in a jail or end up in an emergency room.