State News

Evers signs bills to combat opioid use through programs to study substance abuse disorder

With 14.5 deaths and 63.5 hospitalizations due to opioids for every 100,000 residents in Wisconsin in 2018, the bills passed with bipartisan support. 

With 14.5 deaths and 63.5 hospitalizations due to opioids for every 100,000 residents in Wisconsin in 2018, the bills passed with bipartisan support. 

Image By: Kalli Anderson

Gov. Tony Evers signed four bills Tuesday addressing substance abuse with programs designed to specifically monitor and study opioid use disorder.

In 2018, there were 14.5 deaths and 63.5 hospitalizations due to opioids for every 100,000 residents in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services — up from just 10.9 deaths and 52.5 hospitalizations in 2014. 

The opioid crisis has taken place in three waves, the most recent of which began in 2014 when deaths involving synthetic opioids began to rise following the illegal manufacture and mixture of drugs like fentanyl.

The four bills, outlined in a statement from Gov. Evers’ office, include a continuation of the prescription drug monitoring program for the next five years and requirements of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to study opioid use disorder in jails and prisons, and register recovery residences throughout the state.

“Folks have seen firsthand how substance abuse disorder — especially opioid use — has torn apart families and communities across our state,” Evers said.

The bills began as part of the Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Agenda in 2014 and were proposed at the Capitol on Jan. 8 by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette. According to WPR, the HOPE Agenda includes the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program used by medical professionals to track opioid use of specific patients.

While the bills — which passed with bipartisan support — are a “step in the right direction,” Evers acknowledged there are more steps to be taken to help Wisconsinites who suffered through the opioid crisis.

“We know that there is more work we have yet to do to make sure we're investing in substance use disorder treatment and services to keep our families and communities healthy and safe,” Evers said.

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