Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced a proposal for $740,000 in funding to reduce opioid-related overdoses and deaths in the community during a press conference on Thursday.
The Harm Reduction and Prevention Act provides $225,000 in funding for two specialist prevention positions. The proposal also allocates $116,000 to harm prevention curricula in schools aimed at tackling opioid overdoses among teenagers.
The Harm Reduction and Prevention Act is part of the 2023 budget proposal. The County Board will hear Parisi’s suggestion to approve immediate use of $465,000 of the initiative at the board meeting on Thursday.
The proposal addresses an increase in deaths related to opioids in Dane County, Parisi said.
“More Dane County residents than ever before are dying of drug poisoning,” Parisi said. “We as a community have a responsibility to act. These investments in my 2023 budget build upon past successes and explore new opportunities to make a potentially lifesaving difference for the individuals and families who call Dane County home.”
The county is partnering with Safe Communities Madison, a non-profit organization that focuses on addiction and mental health treatment.
Jewel Adams, a Safe Communities recovery coach, said harm reduction and education programs are necessary to minimize the harm of opioids.
“We want fentanyl off our streets, we are fighting to get fentanyl off our streets, and until we can get it off our streets we are doing drug poisoning prevention [and] harm reduction programs,” Adams said at the press conference.
The Harm Reduction and Prevention Act also allocates $100,000 to the African American Opioid Coalition and $115,000 to OutReach LGBTQ+ Center as part of an effort to reduce opioid-related deaths in the Black community and LGBTQ+ community, respectively.
Charles Tubbs, director of Dane County Emergency Management, lost a child to an opioid overdose. Tubbs urged people to have empathy for those struggling with opioid misuse.
“Some people want to take the position that these people are not real,” Tubbs said. “But I tell you, they are our children, our brothers, our sisters, our moms, dads, friends, and the strangers in the street. They are not ‘addicts’ or ‘losers’ or ‘throw-away criminals,’ they are real-life human beings.”