Pushback Against Drug Abuse in central Wisconsin - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Pushback Against Drug Abuse in central Wisconsin


The number of drug deaths in our area is on pace to easily top last year, and local officials are trying to figure out how to stop the trend.

Drug prevention advocates called on the community to join in the fight against drugs.

This year alone, the medical examiner says there have been three drug related deaths in Marathon County, and it's only May. There were four total last year.

Police and other leaders say they want to stop this trend.

"It's an ongoing battle. But it's a battle we're fighting, and we're fighting it aggressively," said Marathon County Assistant District Attorney Lance Leonhard.

The battle Leonhard is talking about is one against heroin. The Marathon County medical examiner says use of that drug is on the rise.

"This is a life and death problem for our community. We're seeing a significant increase in fatalities," said Marathon County Medical Examiner John Larson.

Wausau police report 79 heroin-related incidents in just the last 18 months. They say more than 700 cases relating to drugs were investigated in 2012, 200 more cases than in 2011.

"The goal is to engage the community, because we are all impacted, because illicit drug use is a threat to public health and safety," said Marathon County Drug Free Communities Program Coordinator Melissa Dotter.

That's where a new campaign comes in, sponsored by Marathon County. Organizers say the campaign will include neighborhood meetings, work in schools and partnering with police.

"The fight will continue. I think it has made a difference in the community," Leonhard told Newsline 9.

According to the Marathon County Sheriff's Department, heroin use became a bigger problem in central Wisconsin around 2010. Officers say a change in the way prescription medications were produced had people looking for another fix.

"Within almost a week or two, of that coming into the market, we started seeing an influx of heroin into the community," said Marathon County Sheriff's Department Lt. Gary Schneck.

It's these members of that community that want to change the culture.

"The well being of our community is our concern," Larson told Newsline 9.

That concern is shared by many, who are ready to push back against a growing problem.



Pushback Against Drug Abuse website:


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