#HopeActLiveWI: Responding to Wisconsin's Opioid Crisis

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#HopeActLiveWI: Responding to Wisconsin's Opioid Crisis

A Message from Paul Krupski, DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives

A new year, a new administration, and a resolution to put people first  

Paul Krupski

The new year brings some new faces to Wisconsin government, most notably Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. At the Department of Health Services (DHS), we have welcomed Secretary-designee Andrea Palm and other new faces to the agency. New people with new ideas bring extra energy to our efforts to end the state's opioid epidemic. 

In one of his first Executive Orders, Governor Evers called on DHS to prioritize the following:

  • Increasing health care coverage
  • Improving health care access
  • Investing in prevention and wellness
  • Developing a diverse and robust healthcare workforce
  • Fostering innovation in health care
  • Reducing health disparities. 

Those are, and will continue to be, the goals of DHS as we respond to the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin, and we'll share some examples in this newsletter. 

I'm excited to announce that our second Opioid Forum is coming to Green Bay March 19-20. Details about the event and how to register are also included in this newsletter. We encourage anyone who is involved in addressing the opioid crisis to attend.

Look for a new feature in this newsletter, the Data Digest. We think it will help make sense of the numbers we use to determine where and how to focus our efforts, and help all of us understand the extent of the crisis and the impact being made through statewide efforts.  

We also have an update on the progress of the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline that was launched in October. Learn how you can help us promote this life-saving service.

While data is an important tool, we can't forget that behind each number is a person.This year, our goal is to spotlight not only the people who are working towards or who are in recovery, but also those who love them, and local responses to the crisis to remind all of us that prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible.    

As we welcome a new year and new faces, I resolve to continue to keep you informed about how DHS is working to address the opioid crisis, and how you can join us, so everyone in Wisconsin can hope, act, and live.  

Register now: 2019 Opioid Forum

Opioid Forum Logo 2

Registration is now open for the 2019 Opioid Forum organized by the DHS Division of Care and Treatment Services .The forum is March 19-20, 2019 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay and features 27 workshops focused on strategies to save lives. Keynote speakers include Bob Forrest, best known for his appearances on Celebrity Rehab, and Andre Johnson, President/CEO of the Detroit Recovery Project. Registration fee: $75. Register today! DHS is seeking approval for 11.5 continuing education hours for this event by the National Association of Social Workers, Wisconsin Chapter. 

Data Digest: Linking emergency medical service data to death records


What can ambulance runs tell us about the state's opioid crisis? DHS data experts Joe Tatar and Jennifer Broad explored that question and came up with some interesting answers.Their examination of these data revealed that people who died from opioid overdoses were mostly male, young, and most likely received multiple doses of naloxone from EMS responders. Most of the patients died at home, as opposed to en route to or at a hospital, and on the same day as the ambulance run.The study also found that although EMS were quicker on response and transport, and spent more time treating patients, it also supports the importance of having naloxone on hand so it can be given immediately when an overdosed patient is discovered and before responders arrive.   

Monthly suspected opioid overdose reports now available online

These county-level reports have information related to suspected opioid overdose ambulance runs within Wisconsin. It uses data from the Wisconsin Ambulance Run Data System (WARDS) and provides counts and rates for the previous month, as well as trends for prior years. 

Making sense of the numbers

DHS has a guide to help you understand the different opioid statistics. Download "A Guide to Interpreting Opioid Statistics". You can also find opioid death and hospital data through the Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health (WISH) query system

More than 1,400 people connect to services through helpline

Addiction Recovery Helpline

From its launch last October, through January 2019,1,412 people from 64 counties have contacted the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline. This service is managed by 211 Wisconsin through a grant from DHS. People can call 211, text their ZIP code to 898211, or visit AddictionHelpWI.org to learn about local resources for opioids, alcohol, and other drug abuse treatment. Promote the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline at your office. Display this poster

Coming soon: Naloxone available without a prescription at more Wisconsin pharmacies


DHS created this video to raise awareness about accidental overdoses and to stress that naloxone can save lives.

An opioid overdose can happen to anyone, including people who are taking prescription painkillers for medical reasons. That's why having naloxone on hand is very important. 

More than 300 Wisconsin pharmacies dispense naloxone without a prescription from a doctor. Efforts are underway to expand the searchable directory of pharmacies that dispense naloxone, making it easier for all Wisconsin residents to access this life-saving antidote in their communities.

If your family member is taking opioids and may be at risk of overdose, ask your doctor or pharmacist about naloxone.

DHS awards over $1 million to address the opioid epidemic

DHS has awarded $1 million in Public Health Crisis Response Grants to 36 local and regional partners to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic.The awards were made possible through a grant DHS received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These programs across the state will support a variety of activities such as public information campaigns, safety trainings for responders, data collection and analysis efforts, and information sharing amongst partners.  All applications were evaluated against the federal approved activities list for the CDC grant funding.

View a list of the grant recipients and their partnering organizations.

Health care providers: Buprenorphine x-waiver training series now available


DHS has partnered with the Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine to support medication-assisted treatment by training more health care providers to be able to prescribe buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is one of three FDA-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Ten in-person training sessions are scheduled across Wisconsin this year. Each session, when paired with an online session offered through the American Society of Addiction Medicine, provides the necessary education for participants to qualify for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine as part a medication-assisted treatment plan for opioid dependency. Course details are available online.

Call for proposals

There is still time to submit a workshop proposal for the 2019 Mental Health and Substance Use Recovery Training Conference on the topic of opioid misuse and abuse prevention, treatment, and/or recovery. Workshops on other mental health and substance use topics also are welcome. The event is October 29-30, 2019, in the Wisconsin Dells. The deadline to submit a workshop proposal is February 22, 2019. View the submission form for more information

Meetings and events

Save the date

March 15, 2019-Meeting of the State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Madison.

March 18, 2019-Dinner for providers: Medication-assisted treatment workshop, Green Bay. 

March 25-28, 2019-Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training, Sun Prairie.

April 2-3, 2019-Wisconsin's Opioid Crisis: A Trauma-Informed Response, Green Bay.

April 27, 2019-Drug Take-Back Day, Statewide.

June 11-22, 2019-Wisconsin Substance Abuse Prevention Training, Wisconsin Dells. (Find details in the next #HopeActLiveWI newsletter.)

#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.