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For Immediate Release
January 6, 2022
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

DHS Schedules Listening Sessions to Get Input On How Settlement Funds Should Be Used to Address Wisconsin’s Opioid Epidemic

Virtual sessions start January 12 and are scheduled in regions across the state

The opioid epidemic has touched every corner of Wisconsin, and how the state responds to the crisis must be informed by the unique circumstances of each individual experiencing opioid use disorder, their friends and family, and their communities. Today, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced it will be holding virtual listening sessions around the state to determine how anticipated settlement funds from opioid manufacturers and distributors can be used to enhance Wisconsin’s system of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services for opioid use to address needs at all levels.

“After opioid-related deaths exceeded 1,000 for the first time in 2020, we know there is more work we can do to continue building a healthier Wisconsin for every family and every community in every corner of our state. These listening sessions will allow us to hear directly from folks across our state about how we can use these funds to invest in efforts to address the opioid epidemic and increase access to substance use treatment and services,” said Governor Evers.

There are 12 listening sessions that include opportunities for partners and stakeholders and the general public to weigh-in with their thoughts on how to invest these dollars for maximum benefit for those most affected by opioid use. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information on how to join the Zoom meeting.

Register in advance for all sessions by following the link.

Partners and stakeholders sessions are scheduled for:

  • Western region: Wednesday, January 12, 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • Northern region: Friday, January 14, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Northeastern region: Friday, January 21, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Southeastern region: Wednesday, January 26, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Southern region: Friday, January 28, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Public and consumers sessions are scheduled for:

  • Western region: Wednesday, January 12, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • Northern region: Friday, January 14, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • Northeastern region: Friday, January 21, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • Southeastern region: Wednesday, January 26, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • Southern region: Friday, January 28, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Evening sessions scheduled for anyone:

  • Tuesday, January 18, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 25, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Ideas can also be submitted through a survey. The deadline is Monday, January 31, 2022.

“We will take the ideas and information from each listening session and use it to determine the best regional and statewide approaches to invest in with future settlement funds,” said DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives, Paul Krupski. “These funds will create opportunities for DHS to provide additional support for new and existing projects going on across Wisconsin to save lives and prevent further harm from opioid misuse.”

The Governor and DHS recognize that partners and the public play a huge role in helping to put an end to the state’s opioid crisis.

In August, 2021, DHS announced its collaboration with three healthcare providers to pilot a “hub and spoke” model to provide integrated services for BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid members for rapid access to comprehensive addiction and mental health treatment, primary care, and other needed supports to assist their recovery.

The most recent data compiled by DHS shows that in the year 2020 there were 3,027 emergency room visits for opioid overdoses and 1,227 deaths.

“Opioid overdoses are avoidable,” Krupski concluded. “Prevention is effective, harm reduction saves lives, treatment works, and recovery is possible. Through these listening sessions we have the opportunity to hear directly from people solutions and ideas that are appropriate for their communities.”

If you or someone you love needs help, contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline. Call 211 or 833-944-4673 or text your ZIP code to 898211.

Last revised June 1, 2022