$3.4 Million To Battle Prescription Medicine Addiction

WISCONSINREPORT.COM (06/19/2015) – The State of Wisconsin is funneling 3.4 Million dollars into a program to provide services to people who are addicted to opioid drugs. The grant is being awarded to the Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc. (FHC), on behalf of the North Central Region Opioid Consortium (NCROC). Opioids are prescribed medications that relieve pain. Some people become addicted.

Opioids reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.

Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed for a variety of painful conditions, including dental and injury-related pain. Morphine is often used before and after surgical procedures to alleviate severe pain. Codeine, on the other hand, is often prescribed for mild pain. In addition to their painrelieving properties, some of these drugs—codeine and diphenoxylate (Lomotil) for example—can be used to relieve coughs and severe diarrhea.

The consortium is a partnership of 18 organizations, including Human Service agencies from Iron, Price, Oneida, Vilas and Forest counties; behavioral health agencies of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Forest County Potawatomi and Sokaogon Chippewa communities; FHC; Marshfield Clinic; Ministry Health Care; Options Treatment Program/Koinonia Residential Treatment Center; and law enforcement agencies of the five-county consortium region.

According to Greg Nycz, FHC executive director, “Consortium members will unite to focus on detoxification and treatment, improving quality of life for individuals addicted to opioids. Special focus areas will be on services for women of child-bearing age and reducing the number of deaths associated with opioid addiction. It is also incredibly important to include affected family members since the pain of addiction is often shared by others.

“The consortium would like to thank Rep. John Nygren for his leadership, as well as Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Sen. Alberta Darling, who have taken the time to understand this problem and support solutions for the people of Wisconsin.”

Today, people in the U.S. makes up 4.6 percent of the world’s population but consume 80 percent of the global supply of opioids. This includes 99 percent of hydrocodone produced, with Vicodin being the most prescribed medication in the U.S. According to the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, some of the highest numbers of controlled substance prescriptions are in this local region.

“For many prescription opioid users, the shift to illegal and highly addictive heroin use is swift and of growing concern. Heroin is a cheaper, more readily available option when prescription supplies dwindle or when cost of medication is prohibitive,” said Bob Kovar, program manager, Tribal Services, Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach.

While people ages 25-34 remain the largest group of opioid abusers, people ages 18-24 are in the fastest growing group of opioid users. Wisconsin sample data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows 4.3 percent of Wisconsin adults report using heroin or another opioid for nonmedical purposes in the past year. This represents 163,300 adults. Among Wisconsinites ages 18-25, the rate of past year use of opioids is 11 percent, or 68,600 people.

“Opioid dependence is a complex health condition often requiring long-term treatment and care. NCROC’s primary purpose is to reduce health and social consequences and improve well-being and social functioning of people affected by opioid dependence,” Kovar said.

“This grant offers an opportunity to improve the quality of care for those addicted to opioids while reducing incidence of relapses and overdoses. We look forward to developing a more comprehensive array of evidence-based treatment options as well as developing individualized treatment plans for every participant.”

The grant will amount to $700,000 a year for five years, bringing the total allocated to 3.4 Million dollars.

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