Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is launching a new heroin awareness campaign.
Van Hollen announced the initiative at a Madison news conference with Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney and Madison Police Chief Noble Wray. The campaign, dubbed The Fly Effect, includes posters, a website, a TV spot, radio ads and YouTube videos, including one featuring state Rep. John Nygren, whose daughter has struggled with heroin.
"The heroin overdose problem is one I don't think we have even fully realized," said 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 and we would be talking about this like a crisis."
The attorney general also announced a $25,000 grant for the Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force to combat heroin on Monday. The grant will go to the Safe Communities coalition to create classroom programs to teach kids how to refuse heroin and the risks involved.
"Heroin is a problem that we don't know how to deal with right now," said Van Hollen. "We need to try to find solutions, and in my opinion the best way to find solutions is let the locals find solutions with our support."
Van Hollen says most people don't know what a huge problem heroin has become across Wisconsin. He's slated to hold a number of other news conferences around the state on Thursday to promote the campaign.
The statewide media campaign will include posters, radio and TV ads and a website called theflyeffect.com, designed to explain the uncontrollable spiral of heroin addiction. It features stories from parents whose children are victims of heroin overdoses.
"I thought about how hard it would be to sit down and be filmed, and tell this story that I haven't told anyone and that [my wife] Laura and I hardly speak of because we just wind up crying," said Dan Czerwonka, whose daughter Kara died of an overdose in 2009. "So I thought long and hard, and then thought about how much easier this would be than having to bury your daughter."
These families carry their children with them, and say they think maybe if they would have known what this campaign is trying to share, things would be different.
"I have a son who is turning 13 so I'm headed back through these years of choices," said Julie Berg, whose son Tyler died of a heroin overdose in 2012. "He's going to have to make that choice at a party when someone is saying 'try this.' So for me, I'm just scared about it but I know that I need to make a difference."