State rolls out heroin prevention plan - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

State rolls out heroin prevention plan

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Wisconsin's attorney general is calling heroin use in our state an epidemic.  He's in Eau Claire Thursday to spread the word that heroin kills. 

"The general public is very unaware of our heroin problem," says Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

State Representative John Nygren is definitely aware of it.  His daughter is a heroin addict.  Late one night, his family received an anonymous phone call no parent ever wants to get.

"Her so-called friends were gone, left her to potentially die," Nygren remembers.  "She was purple.  She was struggling to breathe and she had a needle still in her arm."

Luckily, emergency personnel arrived in time and saved her life.  To prevent more stories like that, the state is rolling out a media campaign.

"We need the support of the media to let people know that heroin is here and it is here to stay," responds Eau Claire Sheriff Ron Cramer.

The Eau Claire Sheriff's Department says it arrested five heroin dealers in 2012.  That number has grown to eight this year with three months still to go.  And those are just the dealers.  That's not counting the much higher number of people that end up in emergency rooms after overdoses. Van Hollen says 75 percent of people who try heroin once will try it again.

"The single most significant thing we can do obviously is to prevent this in the first place and prevention isn't going to occur if we don't have education," states Van Hollen.

So rolling out a statewide media plan may be the best course of action.

"Any way to contact the public with these stories is valuable on the front end of this," Cramer exclaims.

"You don't feel like you are a drug dealer if you are giving your friends prescription drugs.  Well the problem is when you get addicted to those and they become less available, what you turn to is heroin," says Van Hollen.  "Heroin, unlike these other drugs where the more you take the higher you get; with heroin, the more you take and the purer it is, the more it kills you."

At least $300,000 will be spend on the statewide media campaign.  The state's has already rolled out its new website depicting the dangers of heroin use.

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