Attorney General announces expansion of “Dose of Reality” campaign, getting employers involved
GREEN BAY — Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says an estimated 163,000 people in Wisconsin are struggling with prescription drug abuse — and on Tuesday, May 17th, Schimel announced a new phase of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s “Dose of Reality” program, aimed at preventing prescription painkiller abuse.
The “Dose of Reality” initiative was launched in September 2015.
“This will be the most important thing I do as attorney general, because it will save lives,” said Schimel.
Now, Schimel is rolling out the next phase, partnering with businesses to help in the fight against prescription drug abuse.
“Employers give us an opportunity to reach people struggling with addiction earlier on. We have a lot better chance of helping someone struggling with addiction when we get to them earlier,” Schimel said.
Wisconsin Public Service already has a policy in place. That’s where Schimel made his announcement, at their office in Green Bay.
“If any employee is facing any kind of drug issue, we have a voluntary program where they can come forward and they will receive treatment. The company will pay for treatment,” said Pat Schillinger, WPS vice president.
And Schillinger said they’ve seen results, even in the early stages of this program.
“We’ve definitely had employees that have faced issues and have received treatment and are obviously still productive employees in the company,” said Schillinger.
William LaBine is the executive director at the Jackie Nitschke Center. He told WLUK that 23 years ago, he reached out to an employer for help with addiction.
“It affects everybody. It’s an epidemic,” said LaBine.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the number of deaths from pain relievers increased 64% from 2005 to 2014.
And in 2013, drug overdoses surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the number one cause of injury death in the state.
45% of those overdoses were attributed to opioid pain relievers.
“The power of this addiction is stronger than the fear of death,” said Schimel.
“The best thing that this program does is that it’s making the community aware of what the problem is and that it exists and who it’s affecting. It’s raising awareness, and it’s normalizing this illness,” said LaBine.
Schimel hopes the new phase of “Dose of Reality” will help employees facing addiction receive treatment from employers rather than punishment.
CLICK HERE to read a statement from Schimel’s Office on this expansion.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Wisconsin DOJ’s “Dose of Reality” program.