Posted at 4:30 p.m. on June 9, 2017
The Brillion News
DE PERE – Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Jon Litscher joined State Representative John Nygren, family and friends, community treatment providers, and other invited guests to recognize the first group of participants to complete DOC’s Vivitrol Treatment pilot program.
The program is part of the state’s push to combat opioid abuse in Wisconsin. Governor Walker convened a Task Force on Opioid Abuse co-chaired by Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Representative Nygren in late 2016 to coordinate efforts to fight the opioid crisis facing Wisconsin. Secretary Litscher also served as a member of the Task Force.
The Task Force issued a report in early 2017 outlining current programs and recommending additional actions to further the state’s work in preventing opioid abuse. The Vivitrol Pilot program was included in the 2015–2017 state budget by Nygren and Senator Vukmir and signed into law by Walker.
The program was appropriated $1.6 million in funding and currently operates in Brown, Calumet, Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Outagamie, Waupaca, and Winnebago counties.
Offenders being released from DOC treatment facilities to community supervision, as well as those already on community supervision in those counties, receive monthly injections of Vivitrol and intensive AODA treatment during the pilot program.
Other states, including Colorado, Missouri, and Florida, are exploring similar programs. Participation in the program is voluntary.
Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist that binds to opioid receptors, preventing opioids from attaching and thus blocking the effects of opioids. Using Vivitrol can help to decrease the likelihood of relapse while an individual is completing AODA treatment.
“As offenders reenter our communities, we want them to have the best chance at success in their new lives. That means stable housing and job skills, and in the case of those struggling with addiction it also means treatment,” Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch said. “This innovative pilot is using medically assisted treatment to help addicts stay clean so they can focus on rebuilding their lives rather than returning to their bad habits.”
Secretary Litscher said: “Our core commitment is public safety; we believe that it is our responsibility to provide options that prepare inmates for success in the community. This pilot is an innovative model that provides individuals with a history of opioid dependency the chance to receive treatment, find a job or start school, and become productive citizens.”
Representative Nygren said: “I’m proud of the investments we’ve made in crucial treatment opportunities for Wisconsinites who struggle with addiction. The Vivitrol pilot program is yet another example of this investment. It’s clear that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment model that works for everyone. It’s for this reason that expanding access to medication assisted treatment to individuals being in the correctional system will provide more stability for those re-entering society. I’m happy that this program is already graduating its first class, and I look forward to seeing the successes of participants for years to come.”
Nygren’s daughter has struggled with opioid addiction for several years. He is a Republican from Marinette and has led nearly all of the state’s initiatives to address the problems of heroin and other opioids.