U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan met with community leaders and families in Rock County Thursday, to discuss efforts to battle the opioid epidemic.
Ryan held a roundtable discussion in Janesville, where he talked about efforts by Congress to expand access to treatment and increase funding for recovery programs. “We in Congress have recognized this is a serious epidemic in America that needs to be addressed,” Ryan said, pointing to recent action in Washington aimed at expanding access and funding for treatment programs.
Rock County Sheriff Chief Deputy Barb Tillman talked about how indiscriminate the opioid epidemic can be, pointing to a family that ripped the copper pipes out its $300,000 house to pay for drugs.
Police Chief David Moore highlighted the severity of the indifference to the city’s opioid crisis by comparing last year’s 12 overdose deaths to other life altering events. “If we had 12 homicides in Janesville in one year, there would be public outcry…if we had 12 fatal traffic crashes, there would be considerable concern…but I didn’t hear as much concern about the 12 deaths of our citizens because of opiates,” he said.
Before closing the roundtable to the media, several health care practitioners also told Ryan that there are still not enough treatment options available to help addicts.