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Sunday Feedback: Big changes needed to fight heroin

3:05 PM, Oct. 30, 2013  |  Comments
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Each Wednesday afternoon, we post online a preview version of the next Sunday's editorial. We want to know what you think! Leave us your feedback in a comment on this story, on our Facebook page, via Twitter by tweeting to @CWOpinions or by emailing opinion@wdhmedia.com.

We'll incorporate reader feedback into the final version of the editorial, and on Sunday we'll publish selections of the responses on the topic. Please share your thoughts by the end of the day Thursday.

Big changes needed to fight heroin

There are still parents who believe their kids aren't at risk. There are still officials who believe hard drugs like heroin are mostly a problem of urban areas, not something smaller cities or rural areas need to prioritize. And there are still communities who believe, or want to believe, that heroin addiction is not something that can happen to them.

Luckily, those attitudes are changing, partly because of the hard work by community coalitions and local officials.

But rising heroin addiction will not be fought by awareness raising alone. The crucial next step will be changes in actual policy, and in the structural factors that lead people into addiction. And that is a much broader, more complicated effort.

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, has come forward to speak publicly about his own family's experience in trying to help his daughter, 24, to kick her heroin addiction. Nygren has done a brave thing and played an important role in personalizing the struggles that affect many families across Wisconsin. He has also introduced a package of legislation that would make relatively small but potentially lifesaving policy changes, including a bill that would allow all first responders to carry and administer Narcan, which neutralizes the effects of opiates in the event of an overdose. (The drug can be administered by emergency medical technicians but current law does not allow police or fire officials, for example, to carry it.)

These are important first steps. But they are only first steps in what is going to be a long, hard fight.

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