Four bills designed to fight the state's growing heroin problem are on their way to Governor Scott Walker's desk after the sate Senate approved them Tuesday. The Assembly previously passed the bills.
The state's heroin problem extends far beyond the legislation. Lawmakers know this too, as each story reveals a common thread.
"We have a lot of moms that still are not public," Lori Cross Schotten said from her Menasha home.
She's Wisconsin's representative for The Addict's Mom, an online forum where 8,000 mothers and fathers nationwide have found their voice.
"There's very rarely a week that goes by that we didn't loose...that one of the mom's doesn't loose a child," she said.
Cross Schotten remembers the moment her son called.
"And he said I'm addicted to heroin," she recalls. "And I was actually on one of the roundabouts in Neenah, and I think I went around it 10 times."
In Green Bay, for more than a decade each, Douglas Darby and Anthony Alvarado couldn't buy enough heroin.
"I had two robberies with the intent to use force," Darby said. "Two different narcotics charges, a third and subsequent marijuana charge."
Now the recovering addicts won't stop telling that story. Their movement and message called Rise Together is not only being welcomed in Northeast Wisconsin schools, it's needed.
"We're getting in there and we're seeing 10, 11, 12 year-olds that are actively strung out on heroin," Darby said.
The stories, from moms to addicts to lawmakers and counselors, carry a common thread. The increase in heroin use and overdose across Wisconsin needs help. And help means treatment.
"Every day," Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said. "I get them every day."
Each story Nygren hears after introducing The HOPE Agenda is part heartbreak, part inspiration. His daughter Cassie remains in the Marinette County Jail after violating her parole for heroin-related crimes. It's a cycle Nygren said isn't unique.
"If we're seeing basically zero success, that means they're just recycling back into the corrections system," he said.
Already Nygren's introduced two more bills. One would pilot several treatment programs in rural areas in Wisconsin.
"It's never too late," Tyler Luedke said, a counselor at Libertas Treatment Center in Green Bay. "If you give us opportunities, stop incarcerating us, let us recover, we can and will provide for this community."
Cross Schotten sent her son to Arizona and now Florida for treatment they couldn't find in Wisconsin.
"Our system doesn't help people get into recovery and stay in recovery," she said.
Everyone in this fight admits there's no silver bullet.
"You'd like to think what we're doing here is going to stop it tomorrow," Nygren said. "It's not going to."
But everyone also knows a plea for help needs someone to listen.
"This is something where everyone in the community is going to have to stand up and say look these aren't isolated incidents," Darby said. "This could happen to my son or daughter."
Monday, July 28 2014 12:13 PM EDT2014-07-28 16:13:05 GMT
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