Wisconsin’s H.O.P.E. Agenda

I am not a political person. I have a hard time trusting what politicians say. Their agendas seem to be for their own advancement, not necessarily that of the common good. So, imagine my surprise when I attended an event and heard a politician tell his story. He almost lost his daughter to a heroin overdose. I don’t want to tell his story, that is for him to do (you can watch it here…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvJbDeISsbY#t=4.017813), but what interested me and what I want to share, is what he is doing because of it. The H.O.P.E. Agenda. It includes legislation that tries to lessen the impact heroin is having on our communities. I thought this week I would share what they have done and what they are trying to do. I think it is important and good.

As I have talked about before, many who end up addicted to heroin start with prescription drug use, then abuse, then addiction. The prescriptions they begin their addiction with can be difficult to obtain and they can be expensive. Far too many times they turn to something like heroin that is easier to get and much cheaper. It is horribly addictive and once in its clutches, the addict cannot tolerate life without it.

In 2013-2014 the following bills were passed. The package of bills is called “H.O.P.E.” or Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education. The four pieces of legislation address the problems associated with heroin both before abuse or addiction begins and after it has occurred.

Assembly Bill (AB) 446, Naloxone for Overdoses. The bill allows those who are properly trained to administer naloxone, the drug used to counter the effects of an opiate overdose.  This will allow an overdose to be more quickly counteracted, potentially saving lives.

AB 447, 911 Good Samaritan. The bill grants limited immunity for a person who calls for help for someone who has overdosed from a controlled substance.

AB 448, Drug Disposal Program.  The bill promotes the safe disposal of unused prescription and over-the-counter medicines by allowing for local governments to have community drug disposal programs.

AB 455, ID for Prescription. The bill requires individuals to show proper identification when picking up certain types of narcotic/opiate prescription medications and keeps track of this record.

In 2015-2016 the following bills are being considered…

AB 364. Changes the requirement for those who dispense certain prescription drugs to submit information to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP, I talked about this program in 17Apr16’s blog) from 7 days to 24 hours. It will also require a practitioner to review a patient’s record when initially prescribing a monitored prescription drug.

AB 365. States that when law enforcement encounters an inappropriate use or an infraction of the law concerning scheduled drugs, they upload that information into the PDMP and have the PDMP notify the physician. There are exceptions for ongoing investigations.

AB 366. Gives the Department of Health Services (DHS) oversight over the operation of pain management clinics across the state. The department’s oversight would not be regulatory, but would be a way of providing safeguards so “pill mills” don’t pop up in our state.

I think these bills are a good start in addressing the increasingly devastating problem of prescription drug abuse. The problem is not going away and we need to continue to look for ways to help. We need to stop over-prescribing and let those who are over-prescribing know we are watching. We need to help those who end up addicted. There are no easy answers for how to do this, but we need to get better. Our future depends on it.

About the Author

Kristin Waite-Labott is a registered nurse and recovering addict who has firsthand experience with the challenges of addiction. She now works as the Head Nurse Coach at Veritus, a virtual treatment program for nurses with substance use and mental health disorders, and is dedicated to helping nurses overcome addiction and making a difference in the lives of others. Kristin is passionate about addressing the growing problem of addiction among healthcare professionals and encourages open discussions and action to prevent it from spreading further.

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