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Ex-heroin addict speaks on need for package of bills dealing with abuse

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A former heroin addict from Hudson says at least two friends may still be alive, had a state law been in place to grant limited immunity to those reporting heroin overdoses.

23-year-old Phil Drewiske made the remark Wednesday at a hearing by the state Senate's health panel on four bills aimed at fighting Wisconsin's growing heroin abuse problem.

Drewiske said his own addiction started with pain pills at age 13, and heroin at 16. He said five of his Hudson area friends died from heroin in the past year -- and at least two were left to die because nobody wanted to call for help and risk getting in trouble themselves.

He says the so-called "Good Samaritan" bill is the most significant of the four measures, which were passed by the Assembly earlier this month.

The others would let trained emergency responders give out the heroin antidote Narcan, expanding prescription drug collection programs, and require ID's when buying prescription narcotics.

Assembly Republican John Nygren proposed the measures after his daughter almost died from a heroin overdose.

He's also rounding up support for two new measures he has yet to introduce. One would create regional opiate treatment centers in underserved parts of the state. The other creates gradual sanctions for convicts for violate release terms, in the hopes that addicts would get faster treatment.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)