WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - The battle against rampant use of heroin in Wisconsin is getting some help. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen stopped in Wausau Thursday to announce a $25,000 grant to help educate young people about the dangers of heroin.
The Attorney General says the funds will help promote existing and new ways to communicate the message that heroin is extremely addictive and dangerous.
The grant will be administered through the Wausau Police Department, working with other agencies and with the Pushback Against Drugs effort. Van Hollen says the money comes from legal settlements handled by the Department of Justice. “We have over the seven years that I’ve been Attorney General been very successful in bringing litigation against pharmaceutical companies for wrongdoing, for off-label marketing, things along those lines that are potentially harmful to the general public as well, and when we have financial recoveries from those consumer protection cases, we’re frequently able to spend those monies in ways that we deem appropriate.”
Many people get hooked on opiates like oxycodone pain pills, and switch to cheaper, and relatively cheaper heroin after getting hooked. Van Hollen says people need to learn how dangerous this is and avoid experimenting with them. “We found the general public needs to learn more about how heroin is so different from so many other drugs, and how the children and young adults who are going to or thinking about trying it, or trying to move from prescription drugs to heroin, as well as their parents and other adults need to learn how different it is and how it’s going to take away their lives.”
Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel says they see drugs playing a part in all types of crimes, and more often than they used to. “Whether it be burglaries, robberies, home invasions, car thefts, retail thefts, garage thefts, a high percentage are tied into drug use and we find the property they are stealing being pawned at local pawn shops, and we tie that back to their addiction.”
Hardel’s department will administer the grant, and he says they intend to reach a large cross section of young people with their prevention message. “We’re going to provide some training. We’re going to include other people, other community members, other leaders in on this initiative of our Pushback campaign. We’re going to go to a younger group of people that we’re trying to educate. We’re want to go into the grade schools, the middle schools, and so mainly it’s going to be used for education purposes.”
The Department of Justice’s new program is highlighted online at TheFlyEffect.com and features heroin facts and the true stories of families impacted by heroin deaths. The Marathon County Pushback Against Drug Abuse information is also available online at pushbackdrugs.com.