The statistics are eye-opening..
The state department of health services says.
the number of deaths with heroin as a contributing
factor more than quintupled between 2003 and 2011.
from 25 to 134.
Earlier today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed
a package of bills into law.
hoping to address the growing problem.
One of them would allow trained first responders to
carry and use narcan...a drug that counteracts heroin
La Crosse Firefighters have been able to carry narcan
since the beginning of
February and have already administered
it three times.
The second bill would give certain immunity to people
who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose.
A third bill would give municipalities the option
to hold prescription drug collection drives.
and a fourth would make it mandatory to show an I-D
to get prescription drugs that contain narcotics.
Although there are many efforts across the state and
even the nation to try to stop the use of heroin.
numbers show there is still an uptick in our area.
News 8's Brittany Schmidt joins us now with more.
According to La Crosse County Human Services, over
the past three years, almost every county in Wisconsin
has seen an increase in heroin use.
One local emergency room doctor says it's a national
trend that is happening right here in our own backyard.
Being an ER doctor at Gundersen Health Systems for
almost a decade now...
you would think Dr.
Chris Eberlein has seen it all....
However, in recent years, he's been witness to countless
heroin overdoses in the community.
We had one of the patients actually brought in from
the parking ramp, he actually overdosed in a car in
the parking ramp.
It's a sight he sees all to often of...
Often times their friends bring them in and just drop
them at the door, that's kind of the classic scenario.
And it's a sight he never gets used to...
There's always frustration because the whole system
has failed to have someone get to that point and sadness
for them and the family.
But that hasn't always been the case.
Prior to that I hadn't seen heroin much at all in
the community, then a couple years ago we started
to see overdoses come in through the ER and the have
stayed pretty much the same.
The increase in heroin use, especially among 12-17-year
-olds, has increased over 300 percent since 1995.
Eberlein says there seems to be a certain switch taking
Initially it was just prescription opiates that we
saw abused and that has switched over to heroin.
Part of the reason is prescription drugs, over the
counter opiates are harder and more difficult to get
and because of that they are turning towards something
that is available and cheaper.
Eberlein says this is a community problem.
that needs everyone's attention.
It's worrisome from the standpoint that this is killing
a lot of young adults.
This is something as a community we really need to
address because it's not going to go away without
us working together to fix the problem.
I also had the chance to talk to Mayo Clinic Health
Services and they are also seeing an increase in ER
visits from people who have overdosed on heroin.
However, they believe more lives have been saved because
first-responders are able to administer that overdose
counter-acting drug, narcan.
To help address the heroin problem in our community.
La Crosse County officials created the Heroin Task
For more information about their work, head to our