Health forum addresses Opioid abuse

Health forum addresses Opioid abuse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Opioid-related overdose deaths more than tripled in Wisconsin in just ten years.

More people in Wisconsin died from drug overdoses than motor vehicle crashes in 2014. And Opioids contributed to 47 percent of the 843 drug overdoses that same year.

Federal and state elected officials met Monday in La Crosse for a public health forum and among many topics, Opioid use dominated much of Monday's discussion.

Officials discussed various policies and procedures that would go into decreasing the use of Opioids in Wisconsin.

The drug is made up of synthetic chemicals used to help reduce physical pain. And that may be part of the problem.

"Doctors were really pressured by the Center for Disease Control and society to treat pain and treat pain in a better way and in a faster way," said Jill Billings, a Wisconsin state representative.

What was thought to be an easy fix, quickly backfired.

"The problem is that Opioids are incredibly addictive and patients weren't always given that warning about the incredible addictiveness," Billings said.

But Wisconsin state officials are trying to do something about this alarming epidemic.

"Opioid round-table discussions, we've held six different listening sessions around the district, getting ideas from law enforcement, from the courts, from folks in the treatment environment," said State Sen. Jennifer Shilling.

The forum, which was aimed at discussing a variety of state-wide and local public health policies, was heavily focused on taking action when it comes to issues that affect Wisconsin residents. And drugs, were at the top of the list for state officials.

"It's looking at national databases, we have a state prescription drug monitoring program, a national database has been brought to my attention also the need for regional treatment centers, sometimes in rural Wisconsin treatment is very difficult and it is a far distance away from a community of support," Shilling said.

"And to make sure that there is affordable transitional housing for folks so that they can continue their work," she said.

Officials also said it's important to start treating addiction as a disease in order to provide the right treatments for those who are ready to seek help.

Governor Walker created the Governor's Task Force On Opioid Abuse in September.

The task force is aimed to help end misuse and abuse of Opioids in Wisconsin.

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