Wis. AG to launch new heroin awareness campaign

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 25, 2013--6:30p.m.
MADISON--Heroin use: It's become an all-out epidemic. Today, the state teamed up with local officials around Wisconsin to take control of the problem.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced $125,000 in grants for local communities. Those communities can use the money however they deem necessary to fight the problem.

Officials say heroin is expanding far beyond big cities and moving into all communities. And they say they've seen a major rise in the number of overdoses during the last few years. "The heroin overdose problem is a problem that I don't think that we've even fully realized," said Madison Police Chief Noble Wray. "If I had the number of homicides in the city of Madison equal to the number of overdose deaths we would be in crisis."

$25,000 will be going to the Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force. They plan to use it to develop an educational campaign for the county's schools.

More than numbers and statistics, today also focused on the human toll of this epidemic. There were several families there today, touched personally by the effects of Heroin. We spoke with two parents whose family was ripped apart by this drug.

"Just beautiful child, beautiful girl, beautiful daughter, wonderful family member," said Dan Czerwonka, of his daughter, Kara.

Dan and Laura Czerwonka are survivors of the unbearable pain Heroin can leave in its wake. "We've spent four years just wallowing in our own misery," he said.

Their teenage daughter backed into Heroin use through pain killers. "Everybody that we've talked to in this situation has... got started with OxyContin and then it's just easier to find Heroin, it's cheaper," said Dan.

They say she hid her drug use pretty well at first, but once they found out about it, they tried everything they could to break her of it. "Counseling and meetings and I mean literally thousands of hours, I mean four or five nights a week we'd go to meetings," said Dan. "We did 17 weeks of outpatient therapy."

"We really thought we were there and it turns out we weren't," said Dan. After a year of fighting, on September 1st, 2009, they walked into a nightmare. "I just stepped into her room, just slightly and I could just see her laying there," said Laura. "And then like instantly I knew she was gone because she was like a greyish blue and I touched her and she was cold."

Talking about Kara's death is something they say they've avoided in the time since. But they're stepping forward now in hopes their story will save other families from the burden they now shoulder every day. "Somewhere well beyond painful, somewhere well beyond torture, somewhere well beyond anything that you can imagine," described Dan.

Posted Wednesday, September 25, 2013 --- 5:57 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is set to launch a new heroin awareness campaign.

Van Hollen is set to appear at Madison news conference Wednesday with University of Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray and Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis to kick off the campaign and highlight heroin's impact on Madison, Dane County and surrounding areas.

The attorney general is slated to hold a number of other news conferences around the state on Thursday to promote the campaign. He's scheduled to make stops in Sheboygan, Appleton, Wausau and Eau Claire.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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