City News

Weekend of drug-related incidents puts spotlight on opioid crisis in Madison

Police responded to six opioid-related incidents in Madison this weekend.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Madison police responded to six opioid-related incidents over the weekend, the latest chapter in the city’s prolonged battle against the nationwide opioid epidemic.

On the evening of Oct. 13, MPD officers treated a heroin overdose downtown, according to the blog of Madison Police Chief Mike Koval. Hours before, MPD officers had responded to reports of heroin use on Junction Road on the west side. That night, another heroin overdose was reported on Annamark Drive on the east side.

The next day, a heroin overdose was reported on Trailsway on the north side. And the weekend’s sole fatality, another heroin overdose, occurred at the Dutch Mill Park & Ride that morning. Later, oxycodone was found at the scene of the sixth incident, which occurred on the south side around 7 p.m.

Madison remains at the forefront of national efforts to battle opioid addiction. Last year, MPD began a program called the Madison Addiction Recovery Initiative.

“We’re trying to destigmatize addiction and change how we, as police officers, work with addiction in the community,” Madison Police Officer Dan Swanson, who serves as MPD’s coordinator for MARI, said. “We’re trying to break that cycle of addiction.”

Swanson explained that MARI allows officers to refer eligible users to treatment, rather than immediately arrest them for felony heroin possession or for low-level misdemeanors that may be committed to support addictions. Charges are dismissed if subjects complete six months of treatment.

Swanson added that anyone who needs treatment can self-refer to MARI.

“If you need help, contact us,” Swanson said. “We can hook you up with the services you need.”

The four subjects of the weekend’s non-fatal heroin incidents were referred to MARI, according to Koval’s blog. The subject of the incident involving oxycodone was arrested and charged for OMVWI and possession, and the investigation surrounding the weekend’s sole overdose fatality is ongoing.

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