WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) - A recently-launched program to fight alcohol and other drug addiction is gaining momentum.
It’s called Push Back Against Drug Abuse, and started in Marathon County in May.
Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse coordinator Melissa Dotter says several people in the community are getting involved. “We have had some people that are currently in recovery. We have had some family members, some parents for example, siblings, people that have been involved in relationships with folks that have been dealing with recovery in this, so we’ve also seen an influx of different community organizations and individuals that see the benefit of getting the community involved.”
The problems with substance abuse are seen everywhere, and affect relationships with family, friends, and employers. Dotter says the Push Back initiative is getting noticed outside of Marathon County. “We’ve even got other counties and other communities around us really grabbing onto this campaign. I’ve just spent the last two days with my colleagues, other counterparts in substance abuse coalitions throughout 2/3rds of the state, and they’re ready to start moving this campaign forward in their own communities.”
Dotter says the biggest problem is still alcohol, since it is legal and socially acceptable, but there’s another drug that is causing almost as many problems. “The number one drug that’s impacting our community is alcohol, but when you look at the next drug right in line, heroin is devastating our young. It’s impacting people of all races, all socioeconomic classes.”
New programs are helping doctors, pharmacies and law enforcement crack down on doctor shoppers... the people that move from one source to another in an attempt to get more narcotic prescription pills. “We’re seeing less prescription drugs in the community. More physicians are looking out for doctor shoppers. More pharmacists are alerting law enforcement when they suspect that somebody is possibly doing that doctor shopping and jumping from pharmacy to pharmacy to get those pills.”
Marathon County had three fatal overdoses in 2010, eight in 2011, six in 2012, and there have already been three in the first five months of this year. The Marathon County District Attorney’s office has even dedicated one prosecutor exclusively to drug crimes.