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Madison – Governor Scott Walker released his Weekly Radio Address today titled “New Year, Same Commitment to Ending the Opioid Epidemic in Wisconsin.”

Hi, Scott Walker here.

Heroin and prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in our state and in many other states across the country, which is why we’re taking new actions in the fight against this growing epidemic.

Today, I called the State Legislature into special session to take up new bills and I directed state agencies to implement recommendations made by Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and State Representative John Nygren, who are the co-chairs of the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse.

These orders instructed our state agencies to take a number of steps to improve our response to this public health crisis and apply for newly available federal funding for grants.

In 2014, Wisconsin saw 843 drug overdoses, 47 percent of which were caused by prescription painkillers. We want to work with first responders, medical professionals, and families to get that number down to zero.

In order to prevent drug addiction and overdose, we need a multifaceted response to help people to receive treatment and recover.

The orders I signed today are another step in the right direction, and build upon our previous efforts including the H.O.P.E., or Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education legislation we signed into law late last spring, as well as an order we issued this fall allowing Narcan, a life-saving drug that blocks the effects of opioids on the brain, to be dispensed without individual prescriptions.

Chances are we all know someone who has been personally affected by a drug overdose. Together, we will work to save lives and eliminate this public health crisis.