COMMENTARY: Heroin prevention is more than a dinner

NOTE: The following is an opinion piece. The opinions stated in commentaries, here and otherwise in our newspaper, are those of the author and not The Brillion News, Zander Press Inc. or the owners or staff. The Brillion News welcomes letters to the editor to respond to this or any other topic of interest.

Commentary by Ed Byrne 

There’s a story about Dane County that should be a huge wake-up call about the extent of the heroin problem in Wisconsin.

NBC15.com reported that the emergency medicine division of the Madison Fire Department has seen a 300 percent increase in the number of times they’ve had to reverse heroin overdoses with Narcan from January to March.

Nationwide, the heroin antidote has saved thousands of lives each month.

The Madison Fire Department used it 42 times in February and 47 times in March. Two weeks into April, they had administered it 30 times.

In the first three months, Madison Police brought people back from heroin overdoses by using Narcan 23 times.

The summer season marks higher drug use.

Over a year ago, I joined a group that planned to organize a regional response to the heroin epidemic. I joined a committee focusing on prevention.

After several months of going to meetings where the talk was about statistics and how to get more government money for prevention, I gave up and decided it was a waste of time.

The last straw was when the committee decided that its initiative to prevent heroin use would be encouraging families to have dinner together.

I made some parting remarks to the folks on the committee that drew some angry responses. They felt I had an attitude problem.

I can understand where they were coming from, though.

Too often, the establishment doesn’t understand the seriousness of something like the heroin epidemic. If you meet with addicts trying to save their own lives, or the families of addicts who are holding on to thin strands of hope, you get a far different take on things than you do in a committee where the concerns are with “studying statistics” and getting someone to take meeting minutes.

We have really underestimated the extent and seriousness of the heroin problem, and so much of our society’s response has been inadequate.

Please see the complete commentary in the April 28, 2016 edition of The Brillion News. 

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