As opioid deaths rise in Wisconsin, the state takes action

It is no secret that the opioid crisis is hitting Wisconsin hard. According to recent reporting, the rate of fatal opioid overdoses in Wisconsin is climbing. Families are suffering as their loved ones die of opioid overdoses even after receiving treatment.

This tragedy is signaling alarm bells for the state. Wisconsin is expanding its efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, thanks in part to new funding from the federal government.

Skyrocketing numbers

The number of deadly opioid overdoses in 2017 is a staggering 916. This is up from just 270 in 2005. That means Wisconsin is experiencing a 239 percent increase in opioid fatalities. These deaths are largely due to fentanyl, heroin and various prescription medications

Smart funding

Here are some ways Wisconsin is putting new funds to good use:

  • $2.4 million to provide medication-assisted treatment to 17 counties and four Native American tribes
  • $200,000 to six counties, including Milwaukee and Dane, to review fatal overdoses and develop prevention techniques
  • $500,000 to provide doctors with guidance from the UW Addictions Consultation Service
  • $1.4 million to a program called ED2Recovery, which connects opioid addicts with treatment and emergency rooms

Some of the funding for counties is going to public health alerts and treatment for inmates who are leaving jail.  

Counseling and treatment

One of the new methods to curb the epidemic includes an addiction hotline at (833) 944-4673. There is also $250,000 grant to a nonprofit called ARC Community Services that helps women dealing with addiction and crime. The grant expands the medication-assisted treatment, including a new recovery coach.

Other efforts

The state is also referring several nurses, doctors and dentists for investigation due to high rates of opioid prescriptions. Opioid prescriptions are down to 2.7 million in 2018 from 3.1 million in 2017. Additionally, there are two new methadone clinics in Madison.

There is a mixture of good and bad news surrounding the opioid situation in Wisconsin. Hopefully, these new strategies will stop the crisis from getting worse.

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