AG: Wisconsin leading the way in battle against opioid addiction

Published: Apr. 24, 2018 at 4:45 PM CDT
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Wisconsin is becoming a national leader in the opioid addiction battle with officials testifying before Congress about local initiatives.

Wisconsin doctors, pharmacists, and law enforcement are working together to help reduce opioid addiction.

"We're not saying you don't ever give these out, because somebody breaks their leg or something like that," says Dr. Paul Pritchard, Prevea Health, VP and Chief Quality Officer. "They're going to be in pain. But we have to make sure it's reasonable."

In 2017, Wisconsin launched the

It's a statewide database that doctors and pharmacists are required to check before giving opioids to patients.

The first year-long report from the Controlled Substances Board gives a snapshot of drug use.

In 2017, 42,000 Wisconsin doctors and pharmacists queried more than six million patients or prescriptions.

"I think in a lot of ways it's made us look at how we provide care sometimes," Pritchard says.

There is still a need for some people to take opioids. However, the report finds fewer are being prescribed.

Opioid prescriptions are down 20 percent from 2015.

"I've had a number of patients over the last couple years say, 'you know what, I don't want it. I hear the dangers. I know I can get addicted or my grand kids can get into it if it's not locked up. I don't want it,'" Pritchard says.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel stopped in De Pere where he encouraged people to be part of the solution.

Schimel is anticipating a record collection for the semi-annual Drug Take Back event on Saturday, April 28.

"When people start abusing those painkillers, they did not get them directly from a doctor. They did not get them from a traditional street level drug dealer. They got them, over 70 percent of the time, from a family member or friend," Schimel says.

Schimel says the prescription database and new guidelines pushing addicts into treatment make Wisconsin the leader in the addiction battle.

Last fall, state officials testified before a U.S. Senate Committee and a Congressional Caucus highlighting the state's efforts.

"We're really all pulling together," Schimel says.

Again, residents can safely dispose of medication during the April 28 Drug Take Back in Wisconsin.