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Milwaukee Area Leaders Say Federal Funding Needed to Tackle Opioid Addiction

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Wisconsin is in line to receive $13 million in federal funding to help tackle heroin addiction

Wisconsin could receive $13 million to help fight opioid addiction, if Congress approves President Obama's request for $1.1 billion to tackle the issue. Local leaders are urging passage of the plan, with Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy reporting that, in the county, nearly 900 people have died of opioid abuse. “That's twice as much as homicides, twice as much as any auto accidents,” Murphy says.

Murphy says people here need help.

“Many times I’ve met with parents who have list their children who really tried to get their kids into treatment facilities, but either they couldn’t afford it or there wasn’t enough space available. We have to recognize that if we don’t address this as a disease, as a public health threat, we’re going to have continuation of more bodies at the morgue on Monday morning,” Murphy says.

Michelle Jaskulski says she has two sons struggling with addictions. She says both are in treatment right now, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Florida, thanks to 90 day scholarships they each got, to go to rehab for free.

“We’re blessed and grateful to have that opportunity, but as Mr. Botticelli said earlier, no one should have to depend on the goodwill of others to get the treatment they need. It needs to be available where they’re at and when they’re ready,”Jaskulski says.

Bradley Wentlandt is police chief in the city of Greenfield. He says heroin addiction is different from others in that the first time or two people use the drug, it’s a choice, but once addicted, the person needs heroin.

“Both physically and psychology, they must continue to take the drug to avoid being sick. And that contributes to the ever growing crime wave related to heroin and opioid addiction. This is really the serve part of protect and serve. And unfortunately, in our area and in many others, there are far too few treatment options available for people who are addicted to heroin and opioids,” Wentlandt says.

Wentlandt says to help reduce the chances that people first become addicted to pain medications, the Greenfield Police Department implemented a program in January called CAAR, Cops Assisting Addiction Recovery.

It allows people to drop off unused medicine at the police station, no questions asked. The City of Milwaukee also provides drop off locations for prescription drugs.