Law enforcement officials in Ozaukee County have been working to stop the spread of heroin and other opioids in the area for several years now.

According to Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the statewide issue of methamphetamines has found its way into Ozaukee County.

Schimel met with officials from around the county on Friday, Feb. 17, at the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds Pavilion to discuss the initiatives implemented to address drug, methamphetamine, and heroin abuse in Ozaukee County. In attendance at the roundtable were Sen. Duey Stroebel, Reps. Jim Ott and Robert Brooks, Sheriff Jim Johnson, and public and law enforcement officials from various communities throughout the county.

What Schimel stressed the most in his discussion was the effect that drug abuse has on mental health. According to Schimel, methamphetamine usage can cause serious mental health issues that have direct ties to increases in depression and suicide among users.

"Two years ago, we saw almost no cases involving meth in Ozaukee. The number of arrests related to meth have suddenly skyrocketed," said Schimel. "People are going to wish that opioid use was the biggest problem in the county if we don't stop the spread of meth."

According to Schimel, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is working toward expanding the involvement of the Dose of Reality campaign, an initiative working to prevent prescription painkiller abuse in the state. He also stressed an interstate collaborative with Illinois and Minnesota to track and stop the flow of drugs into Wisconsin from those states.

"What I want people to know is that this is not a war on drugs," Schimel stressed. "War implies that we are battling and arresting as much as we can, but we cannot arrest our way out of what has become a public health crisis. We have matured in our approach to prevent the spread of drug abuse, and I am very impressed by the work and commitment of Ozaukee County officials in addressing this issue."

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