One La Crosse judge is speaking out about the opioid epidemic.
Judge Ramona Gonzalez deals with many drug cases, including one Tuesday, when she sentenced Mathew Docken of Onalaska to jail for stealing a policeman’s gun to trade for drugs.
Gonzalez went off on the opioid problem. She said greed is leading to a spread in opioid addiction, while drug companies introduce new varieties.
“The doctors are saying, the research people are saying, ‘This is not a good thing,'” Gonzalez said. “Our FDA’s approving those drugs, to unleash another round into our communities. This is not going to get better any time soon.”
She continued, “It saddens me and we will have to figure out a way to get our young people and our old people away from these opioids that should never have been unleashed the way they were unleashed in our communities.”
Gonzalez added that she’s seen young people become addicted, like Docken, after being exposed to opioids.
“A high school football injury or a baseball injury,” she explained, “they’re given opioids and they’re told that they’re OK. And within two weeks, they’re hooked. And they go from being star athletes to this.
“This is what I’m seeing every day.”
Gonzalez says battling the opioid problem will have to include treatment, and not turning away from the problem. She told Docken that he can’t leave jail until he works out a rehab program to break his drug habit.
The gun Docken stole from a sheriff’s officer, who was getting his car washed in La Crosse, was loaded. It was eventually recovered in a Milwaukee drug house.