In the face of a statewide heroin epidemic, advocates to call on Joint Finance Committee to make early youth drug prevention a state budget priority

As heroin and other drug use continue to rise across Wisconsin, on Friday morning March 20th, Citizen Action of Wisconsin joined a local school district leader and an addiction recovery advocate directly impacted by the heroin/opioid crisis at a media conference to call on the Joint Finance Committee to prioritize investment in early school-based drug screening and counseling services in the state budget.

Heroin-related deaths in Milwaukee County increased 72% in 2014, surpassing both traffic fatalities and homicides, according to new statistics from the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office. A recent state Department of Justice report shows that heroin-related cases rose to record levels in nearly every county in Wisconsin in 2014.

Despite these tragic numbers, the 2015-17 proposed state budget fails to address this urgent and growing public health crisis.

At the media event, Beth Heflin (picture right) presented a proactive school-based preventative approach to youth substance abuse being implemented in West Allis/West Milwaukee school district called SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) which reaches young people before they develop life-threatening addictions to dangerous substances.

Advocates are calling on the Joint Finance Committee to make this critical early prevention service available to every Wisconsin public high school to ensure risky drug and alcohol use among youth is identified and treated early.

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