BELLEVUE - A call for action to fight a growing drug problem in Wisconsin.
A local lawmaker has introduced legislation designed to combat heroin abuse.
Republican State Representative John Nygren unveiled the package of bills Friday during a news conference at the Brown County Sheriff's Department.
For the Marinette lawmaker the fight is personal. His daughter is fighting heroin addiction.
It's a problem one local man says he thought would end up killing him.
"I didn't think I was going to live to see 27, 28 years old. I had accepted the fact that I was going to die a junkie," said Douglas Darby, Howard-Suamico.
Darby says for 10 years, he was an addict.
"It started with the prescription pills, it started with marijuana use, it started when I thought it was fun," said Darby as he stood alongside law enforcement and lawmakers at the news conference.
Law enforcement officials say that's not unusual with heroin addiction.
"The thing that leads people to heroin most often, and we're hearing this from treatment personnel as well, is prescription drugs, and that's particularly the narcotics," said Dave Poteat, Brown County Drug Task Force.
Brown County sheriff's deputies are fighting the prescription drug problem. But they say there are roadblocks.
"When we did our follow up investigations on prescription fraud and diversion of the opiate pain killers hitting the street, it was difficult to prove who actually picked them up,” said Guy Shepardson, Brown County Sheriff's Dept.
Republican State Representative John Nygren's package of bills includes requiring people to show an ID at the pharmacy.
"It's just another tool for law enforcement to be able to know where these prescription drugs, that are potentially dangerous, are going," said Nygren.
Nygren's proposed legislation also includes what's called the 911 Good Samaritan Law. Those found with simple possession when they have called 911 to save a life would be granted immunity.
"We're going to go after dealers but we want to save lives," said Nygren.
According to the Justice Department, there were 673 heroin-related arrests in the state last year.
That's a 152 percent increase from the 267 arrests in 2008.
Authorities say there were more than 400 heroin-related arrests in the first six months of this year.
The cost of implementing the legislation, if passed, is unknown.
But those in recovery say it doesn't matter.
"If it saves one life, what can we put on the price of that," Darby said.
Other bills Nygren introduced Friday include equipping all first responders with the anti-heroin drug Narcan, and changing the way drug disposal programs work.
He expects the proposed legislation to be signed into law by the end of this year.
Nygren also said there's more to come, including alternatives for treatment in rural and underserved areas.
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