"Stairway to heroin:" Parents educated on drug abuse during forum in Menomonee Falls

MENOMONEE FALLS -- Heroin has an overwhelming impact on the lives it touches, and heroin and prescription painkiller abuse is on the rise across the state of Wisconsin. When it comes to protecting young people, there's an even more powerful influence -- parents. On Tuesday evening, March 1st, there was an effort to educate parents at Menomonee Falls High School.

The program was called "Stairway to Heroin."

Parents, families and doctors shared personal stories, and they were joined by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who is working to fight the heroin epidemic with the DOJ's "Dose of Reality" campaign.

Officials said children who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are 50% less likely to use them.

"I've met hundreds of parents who have buried their children to opiate overdoses and I've yet to meet one parent who thought their child was the bad kid. In fact, many of these parents have been very effective in proving to me that their kids were definitely the good kids," Schimel said.

Also on Tuesday, Senator Tammy Baldwin announced a new plan to increase funding to fight opioid and heroin abuse.

Baldwin said this in a statement:

With drug overdose deaths on the rise in Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has introduced an amendment to enact President Obama’s budget request and provide for about $1.1 billion in new funding to address the prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic. Senator Baldwin introduced the provision today as an amendment to the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S.524), which is currently being considered by the full Senate.

Consistent with the President's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, this amendment includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding to expand access to treatment and recovery services for opioid use disorders, support the placement of substance use disorder treatment providers in the communities most in need of behavioral health providers, and continue to build the evidence base for effective treatment programs. This funding will boost efforts to help individuals with an opioid use disorder to seek treatment, successfully complete treatment, and sustain recovery.

It also includes more than $90 million in additional funding to expand existing efforts across the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to expand state-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, expand access to medication assisted treatment, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities.

“Opioid abuse is an epidemic in Wisconsin that continues to grow at an alarming rate,” said Senator Baldwin. “As our communities across America struggle with this epidemic on a daily basis, Congress must act to combat this problem with solutions and the investments to make them work. This funding is vital to our first responders, healthcare providers and criminal justice system as they fight this epidemic. Most importantly, these investments will help save lives.”

Every day, 44 people in the U.S. die from overdose of prescription painkillers, and many more become addicted, according to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, drug overdose deaths doubled from 2004 to 2013, and more Wisconsin residents died in 2013 as a result of drug overdose than from motor vehicle crashes, suicide, breast cancer, colon cancer, firearms, influenza, or HIV. Opioid pain relievers contributed to 45 percent of the 843 drug overdose deaths in 2013, while heroin contributed to 27 percent.

Last week, Senator Baldwin, along with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, introduced new legislation that would address the opioid addiction crisis from prevention to recovery. The Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act outlines a comprehensive approach and allocates necessary funds to combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic in four key areas: prevention, crisis, treatment, and recovery. Importantly, this bill would improve access to lifesaving opioid reversal drugs, like naloxone, enhance treatment and recovery services for our hardest hit communities, expand access to medication-assisted treatments, like buprenorphine, as well as provide greater substance abuse treatment and counseling options for youth and pregnant women.

Senator Baldwin is a strong supporter of increased funding for prescription drug and opioid abuse prevention, treatment and research programs. Earlier this month, Senator Baldwin announced her support for emergency funding legislation to address the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that is devastating communities in Wisconsin and across the country. The Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (S. 2423), introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), would provide supplemental appropriations totaling $600 million to programs at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Last year, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, she led a call to strengthen federal investments in the FY 2016 budget to combat the growing prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic in America, including the CDC’s Prevention for States program. The final FY 2016 funding legislation (the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016) included increased funding for prevention, research and treatment programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Summary of funding and programs in Senator Baldwin’s amendment:

Funding for FY17 and FY18:

$920 million for SAMHSA for State Targeted Response Cooperative Agreements - to support cooperative agreements with States to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. States will receive funds based on the severity of the epidemic and on the strength of their strategy to respond to it.  States can use these funds to expand treatment capacity and make services more affordable.

$50 million for HRSA for the National Health Service Corps - to expand access to substance use treatment providers.  This funding will help support approximately 700 providers able to provide substance use disorder treatment services, including medication-assisted treatment, in areas across the country most in need of behavioral health providers.

$30 million for SAMHSA to study treatment effectiveness – to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs employing medication-assisted treatment under real-world conditions and help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.

Funding for FY17:

$50.1 million for SAMHSA targeted capacity grants for Medication-Assisted Treatment – this is an 25.1 million increase over FY16 enacted levels and would support 23 new state grants to expand/enhance medication assisted treatment utilizing FDA-approved medications in combination with psychosocial services, recovery support services, and coordination/ integration of HIV/hepatitis C direct services.

$10 million to establish a buprenorphine demonstration project - that permits non-physician providers, with appropriate safeguards, to prescribe buprenorphine if such providers are allowed under State law.

$10 million for CDC to support dissemination of  safe opioid prescribing guidelines -this would support pilot testing, evaluating and adapting a comprehensive dissemination plan for prescribing guidelines including development of succinct, usable formats accessible to providers across the country. It would also support development and public dissemination of clinical decision support tools derived from the opioid prescribing guidelines as well as online training modules.

$10 million for HRSA for a rural opioid overdose reversal program –this would aim to reduce opioid overdose in rural areas, by supporting training licensed healthcare professionals to recognize the signs of opioid overdose and learn to administer naloxone, referring to substance abuse treatment centers, and purchasing naloxone and opioid overdose reversal devices.

$5 million for ONC to enhance Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs – to expand efforts to harmonize technical standards to support Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and Health IT interoperability.

$3 million for Bureau of Prisons Treatment Programs - to support drug treatment programs within the Bureau of Prisons, including expanding its medication-assisted treatment pilot.

$50 million for DOJ’s Second Chance Act Grant Program – this is an increase of $16 million to reduce recidivism and increase public safety by helping justice-involved individuals successfully reintegrate into the community, including activities such as: treatment of co-occurring disorders and family-based substance abuse treatment.

$14 million for DOJ to expand residential substance abuse treatment – this is a $2 million increase to support state, local, and tribal governments in developing residential and aftercare services for substance-involved inmates.

$12.5 million for DEA Heroin Enforcement Groups - to create new heroin enforcement groups aiming to target, disrupt and dismantle heroin trafficking organizations.