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News from Attorney Carlos Gamino
Wisconsin Opioid Deaths Down for the First Time in 4 Years
New data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services says that opioid deaths are down across the state – a figure that correlates to a huge increase in spending to address the current crisis. In 2016, the state spent just $5 million to address the opioid epidemic, while last year, it spent nearly $25 million.
What the Data Says
DHS says that 838 people died in connection to opioid use during 2018, a 10 percent decrease over 2017. The money that the state spent last year to address the crisis went to essential services like the creation of an addiction recovery hotline, support programs and public awareness campaigns. New medical guidelines also encourage doctors to find alternatives to opioids because they’re so addictive, which may have had a hand in the sharp decline of opioid deaths, as well.
Wisconsin has traditionally has higher opioid-involved overdose deaths than the national average. In 2017, 926 people overdosed and died – that’s a rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 Wisconsin residents. The national average is 14.6 deaths per 100,000. During 2017, the greatest increase in deaths involved synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, and it was huge. In 2012, there were 56 deaths from synthetics, but in 2017, there were 466. During the same year, Wisconsin doctors wrote 52.6 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people – and although that seems high, that’s lower than the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions for every 100 people.
What Do You Think?
Wisconsin is reeling from the opioid crisis, but it looks like the steps the state is taking to address the problem may be working. Have you seen any of the public awareness campaigns, and do you feel the state is doing enough? I’d love to hear what you think about Wisconsin’s sharp decline in opioid-related deaths last year, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages: