Previously, we began looking at the problem of increased opioid abuse across the country and here in Wisconsin. Along with the surge in prescription drug abuse, one of the positive developments has been that lawmakers have taken an approach to the problem which is not merely punitive, but aimed at addressing the addiction itself.
For instance, Rep. John Nygren of Marinette was successful in passing measures back in 2014 which address the problem with education, increased access to a drug which counteracts the effects of heroin overdose, immunity for those who report suspected heroin overdose or transport an overdose patient to the hospital, and allowing municipalities to hold prescription drug collection drives and require identification to obtain prescription narcotics.
Other creative solutions to the problem are coming from the federal government. One example is the Madison Police Department’s participation in a federal grant program which involves “smart policing” in dealing with drug users. Under the pilot program, known as the Madison Addiction Recovery Initiative, nonviolent drug offenders are given the option to receive treatment instead of going through the criminal process.
It remains to be seen how effective the pilot program is with offenders. It is hoped, of course, that drug addicts will benefit from the increased availability of addiction treatment in lieu of criminal penalties. For those who are facing drug charges in locations that do not have such a program, there may still be other possibilities for seeking appropriate help while reducing the consequences of criminal charges. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney helps ensure a defendant has the guidance and advocacy necessary to navigate the criminal process with protection of their rights and interest.
WisContext.org, “Why Addiction Keeps People On A 'Road Of Pain',” Scott Gordon and Rich Kremer, Sept. 8, 2016.
Wisconsin Public Radio, “Madison Police Give Nonviolent Drug Offenders Choice: Arrest Or Treatment,” Shamane Mills, Sept. 29, 2016.