Gov. Walker signs bills to combat opioid abuse

Gov. Walker signs bills to combat opioid abuse. (WLUK/Tim Flanigan)

De Pere (WLUK) --- New laws to try to combat opioid abuse in Wisconsin are now in place.

Governor Walker signed 11 bills during his tour around the state Monday, a bill signing tour that included De Pere.

The bills are part of the "Hope Agenda." H.O.P.E stands for Heroin, Opioid, Prevention, Education.

"These are series of bills that provide more tools, that provide more assistance," explained Gov. Walker.

While in De Pere, Walker signed four bills into law.

Those bills included; changes to how stronger medications containing codeine are prescribed, as well as, adding more money for opioid treatment centers in rural and undeserved communities. The bills also provide more money for addiction training for doctors.

"We're not telling people not to take their medicine, we want to be clear about that. If a doctor prescribes medicine for a condition, people need to take that. But particularly when it comes to pain, you need to question that and you need to be mindful that often times the medicines we take for pain can be highly addictive," explained Walker.

According to the most recent data from the state, in 2015, 384 people died from prescription opioids overdoses and 281 people died from heroin use.

"There is still more work to do," said State. Rep. John Nygren, R- Marinette.

Nygren said the new laws will allow addicts to get the help they need.

"As long as there are families being affected, as long as there is loss of life, as long as there is a cost to society from a human side, and from just a plain dollars and cents stand point, we're going to be trying to curb the tide," said Nygren.

The bill signing took place at the Medical College of Wisconsin Green Bay, which is where researchers like Dr. Cheryl Stucky are working to create pain medications that are not addicting.

"Can we stop the acute pain before it becomes chronic and can we stop that drive of the pain," said Stucky.

Stucky says stopping the pain before it starts would help cut down on Opioid abuse.

The next biennium budget contains $9,038,000 for H.O.P.E legislation.

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