#HopeActLiveWI: Responding to Wisconsin's Opioid Crisis

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#HopeActLiveWI: Responding to Wisconsin's Opioid Crisis

Paul Krupski

All Hands on Deck

A message from Paul Krupski, DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives 

You often hear that Governor Scott Walker wants "all hands on deck" to end Wisconsin's opioid epidemic. At the Department of Health Services (DHS) we've taken that message to heart. It is no exaggeration that nearly every DHS division and office is involved in addressing this crisis, and we take our role seriously. We listen to statewide partners and stakeholders to learn about their successes and to better understand their challenges, provide partners with the tools to manage this crisis in their communities, promote safe disposal of prescription drugs, direct people to places to find treatment for opioid dependency, and more.

So, while all hands are on deck at DHS, it's important for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. DHS leadership has created a structure to support these activities, identify our priorities, and coordinate our efforts, to create policies and programs that work. You'll see some examples of these approaches in this newsletter.

In September, I was able to witness how committed so many of you are in supporting people on the path to recovery at the annual Rally for Recovery on the Capitol Square. At the rally, it was my honor to read Governor Walker's proclamation declaring September Recovery Month in Wisconsin. DHS is a proud sponsor of this annual event organized by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery

Speaking of all hands on deck, we need everyone in Wisconsin to lend a hand by taking part in the upcoming Drug Take Back Day on October 27. 

October marks my first anniversary as Director of Opioid Initiatives. Over the last 12 months, I've had the opportunity to meet partners who share that "all hands on deck" philosophy and, while there is still work to be done, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm, care, and thoughtfulness so many of you are putting towards everyone living their best life. 

I'm always interested in hearing what your community is doing to end the opioid epidemic. Please feel free to email me and share your ideas, comments, or suggestions.Together we will #HopeActLiveWI

Recovery is Real

Rally for Recovery

Governor Scott Walker declared September Recovery Month in Wisconsin, and the highlight was the 2018 Rally for Recovery on the Capitol Square organized by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery and sponsored by the DHS Division of Care and Treatment Services.

More than 500 people from around the state were able to connect to different services available to support recovery from substance use and mental health concerns. They also heard moving stories of recovery from people with lived experience who openly shared how they found a path toward recovery and what recovery means to them. 

While data tends to focus on the death toll from opioid abuse, it's important to note that tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents are experiencing the promise of recovery. They’re no longer abusing opioids. They've reconnected with family and friends. They have built strong, healthy relationships in their communities. They’re gainfully employed and contributing to Wisconsin’s economic well-being. 

The DHS website has tools to support people in recovery. Treatment works. Recovery is possible. 

Coming Soon: Addiction Recovery Helpline

hotline resized

A statewide hotline for the public to call to receive information on local treatment and recovery services will begin taking calls by the end of this month. Watch for more details from DHS coming soon. 

Addiction Medicine Consultation Line

health care network figures

Wisconsin primary care physicians and other treatment providers have a new tool to help them successfully manage patients with addictions. With help from a grant from DHS, the University of Wisconsin Addiction Consultation Line began taking calls in July. It is managed by the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health. The phone number is 800-472-0111.

Opioid Prescriptions Fall by Nearly 30%


Our partners at the Department of Safety and Professional Services report that opioid prescriptions in Wisconsin have decreased 29.7% from the first quarter of 2015 to the second quarter of 2018, thanks in part to the mandatory Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). State law requires health care providers to use the PDMP to know what drugs patients are taking, including opioids, before ordering a new prescription. Full details can be found in the Wisconsin ePDMP report that was prepared by the state's Controlled Substances Board. 

Special Care for Pregnant Women and New Moms

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Rates of maternal opioid use and neonatal abstinence syndrome, a baby's withdrawal from substances used by their mother, have grown in Wisconsin. In response, the Wisconsin Association of Perinatal Care has developed a tool for obstetricians and others to help treat pregnant and postpartum women who are dependent on or misusing opioids. From Just Say No to Just Say Know (and do) is based on feedback from doctors and patients to create treatment plans that can work.   

DHS Division of Public Health Treats Opioid Epidemic...Like an Epidemic

DPH IMS Opioids

When there is an outbreak or disaster, the DHS Division of Public Health (DPH) establishes an Incident Command System or Incident Management System. Most recently, these structures have been created to manage the DHS response to flooding across the state, and an outbreak of severe bleeding in people who have used synthetic cannabinoids tainted with rat poison. Now, thanks in part to a $2.8 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DPH is using the same approach as part of its efforts to fight Wisconsin's opioid epidemic.The team has an incident commander and roles are assigned based on needs like collecting and sharing data, communicating with our partners, and addressing public health concerns related to opioid misuse, like the risk for hepatitis C to intravenous drug users. DPH has many hands on deck in the fight to end the opioid crisis and in 2016 prepared and issued the Public Health Advisory on the opioid epidemic.

Grant Money Available

The DHS Division of Public Health is awarding a total of $1 million in public health crisis response funding to strengthen public health preparedness and response to Wisconsin's opioid epidemic. Groups eligible to apply include:

  • Local and Tribal Public Health Agencies
  • Tribal Health Centers
  • Health Emergency Readiness Coalitions
  • Regional Trauma Area Councils

Deadline to apply is November 1. Projects up to $20,000 will be considered for awards. All activities and purchases must be completed by August 31, 2019. 

Meetings and Events


October 17-18: Mental Health and Substance Use Recovery Training Conference, Kalahari, Wisconsin Dells

October 23-24: 2018 Summit on Opioids and Meth Hyatt Regency, Milwaukee. 

October 29-31: Governor Scott Walker's Faith-Based Summits on Opioids. Milwaukee, DePere and Rice Lake 

November 8: Wisconsin Association for Perinatal Care Opioid Series Webinar, "The Impact of Opioid and Benzodiazepine Use During Pregnancy on Neonatal Outcomes"

November 14-15: DHS Division of Quality Assurance Focus Conference, Kalahari, Wisconsin Dells

November 30: Governor Scott Walker's Task Force on Opioid Abuse, Location to be determined.

December 7: State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Madison

#HopeActLiveWI News Releases


October 10: #HopeActLiveWI: Wisconsin Awarded Nearly $3 Million to Combat Opioid Epidemic

September 26: #HopeActLiveWI: Wisconsin Awarded Nearly $24 Million to Fight Opioid Epidemic

September 11: #HopeActLiveWI: Program Guides Opioid Overdose Survivors to Health and Healing

August 23: #HopeActLiveWI: Grants Awarded to Prevent Opioid Abuse

August 16: #HopeActLiveWI: Federal Grant to Boost Wisconsin's Response to the Opioid Crisis

View more DHS news releases or sign up to receive them in your inbox.

2018 Fall Drug Take Back Day

#HopeActliveWI: Responding to Wisconsin's Opioid Crisis is published quarterly by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Please share this newsletter and encourage your colleagues to sign up to receive it. You can also follow #HopeActLiveWI on Facebook and Twitter. Join the conversation.