Opioids: DHS Response

#HopeActLiveWI

We are committed to ending Wisconsin’s opioid crisis. Here’s a look at some of our recent efforts to save lives and build healthy communities.

2019

February

Awarded public health crisis response grants. One million dollars in public health crisis response grants were awarded to 36 local and regional organizations. The awards were made possible through a grant DHS received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These programs will support a variety of activities such as public information campaigns, safety trainings for responders, data collection and analysis efforts, and information sharing. View a list of the grant recipients and their partnering organizations.

January

Launched fentanyl test strip campaign. This effort focuses on injection drug users in Milwaukee. Staff from the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin plan to distribute about 30,000 of these test strips. People who inject heroin mixed with fentanyl are at high risk for a fatal overdose. The goal of this project is to save lives by giving injection drug users information about what may be in the drug they are about to use.

2018

December

  • Issued first public health alert. Alerts regarding suspected increases in opioid drug overdose activity are issued to local health departments weekly. (News release)
  • Awarded grants for medication-assisted treatment in jails. This service is now available in 16 county jails. (News release)

November

Awarded grants to expand medication-assisted treatment. Grants of $250,000 were awarded to ARC Community Services and United Community Center. (News release)

October

  • Hosted faith-based summits. More than 200 faith leaders from across Wisconsin received information on the role faith leaders can play in prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery activities. Summits were held in Milwaukee, De Pere, and Rice Lake.
  • Received emergency response grant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded Wisconsin a nearly $3 million grant to enhance public health prevention efforts. (News release)
  • Launched Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline. The Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline is a free and confidential service that connects people to resources to overcome a substance use concern. Call 211 or visit addictionhelpwi.org. This service is managed by 211 Wisconsin. (News release)

September

  • Sponsored Rally for Recovery. The Rally for Recovery was held at the state Capitol. It was hosted by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery. More than 500 people attended to celebrate people in recovery and recognize the service providers who help people achieve wellness.
  • Received State Opioid Response Grant. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded Wisconsin nearly $12 million as part of its State Opioid Response Grant Program. (News release)
  • Received enhancement grant from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wisconsin received about $2.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue efforts to prevent prescription drug overdoses.
  • Published ForwardHealth Update 2018-33. Removal of Coverage Limitations for Narcotic Treatment Dose Administration. (PDF)

August

Awarded prevention grants. Seventy community coalitions serving all areas of the state were awarded grants to support their work reducing the availability and access to opioids for nonmedical purposes. Only coalitions associated with the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth were eligible to apply for these grants. (News release)

July

June

Published ForwardHealth Update 2018-20. Certification and Service Provision for Opioid Treatment Programs. (PDF)

May

  • Awarded harm reduction grants. Nine local health departments were awarded grants to support local opioid harm prevention activities. (News release)
  • Awarded unmet treatment grants. Nearly $2.4 million in grants to 17 counties and four tribes were awarded to provide treatment to people addicted to opioids. (News release)
  • Reviewed coverage policies for medication-assisted medications. Wisconsin Medicaid’s Pharmacy Prior Authorization Committee recommended that Medicaid discontinue the clinical prior authorization process for preferred buprenorphine products in July 2018.
  • Published guidance for naloxone administration. Naloxone Administration in Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Clinics, P-02138 (PDF)

April

  • Hosted Opioid Forum. More than 500 people attended this two-day event in Milwaukee to learn best practices to save lives. Watch webcasts.
  • Awarded grants to expand medication-assisted treatment. Grants of $250,000 were awarded to the Forest County Potawatomi, Milwaukee County, Southwestern Community Action Program, and Tellurian. (News release)
  • Launched the Wisconsin Opioid Project ECHO®. Project ECHO® is a continuing education initiative led by the UW-Madison Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. It connects addiction-medicine experts with providers statewide to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorder. Practitioners are invited to join a free video conference the third Friday of every month to talk about best practices.
  • Published new Medicaid policy for outpatient behavioral health services. Wisconsin Medicaid announced coverage of counseling provided by a substance abuse counselor-in-training (SAC-IT). This new policy allows for greater flexibility for providers-in-training to enroll in Medicaid.

March

  • Hosted Wisconsin’s Opioid Crisis: A Trauma-Informed Response. Nearly 200 professionals attended this two-day event in Wauwatosa to learn how strategies to address the opioid crisis must recognize trauma as a driver of addiction. Watch webcasts.
  • Awarded fatality review grants. Grants totaling $200,000 were awarded to six counties to create or enhance local partnerships to review fatal drug overdose cases. (News release)

February

Published guidance on naloxone administration. Community-Based Residential Facility -Naloxone Administration, P-02091 (PDF)

January

  • Launched #HopeActLiveWI email list. People interested in receiving updates about the DHS response to Wisconsin’s opioid crisis were invited to sign up for an email list. Sign up now. Dozens of messages have been shared since the first bulletin went out. The bulletins focus on funding opportunities, program updates, and upcoming events and conferences.
  • Awarded grants for regional treatment centers. Grants were awarded to establish regional treatment centers in underserved parts of the state. The new programs began serving clients in the summer of 2018. (News release)
  • Awarded grants for prevention projects. Sixty-three community coalitions serving all areas of the state were awarded grants to support their work reducing the availability and access to opioids for nonmedical purposes. Only coalitions associated with the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth were eligible to apply for these grants. (News release)
  • Published first issue of #HopeActLiveWI newsletter. This newsletter is published quarterly. It features information for DHS partners and the general public. (Archive of past issues)

2017

October

  • Shared safety guidance for first responders. Guidance for first responders to avoid exposure to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids was published. (News release)
  • Supported launch of ED2Recovery Program. The first clients enrolled in the ED2Recovery Program.
  • Launched new data portal. Opioid death and injury data became available in the Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health (WISH) query system. (News release)
  • Hired director of opioid initiatives. Paul Krupski assumed the role of director of opioid initiatives. (News release)

September

  • Sponsored Rally for Recovery. The Rally for Recovery was held at the state Capitol. It was hosted by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery. More than 200 people attended to celebrate people in recovery and recognize the service providers who help people achieve wellness.
  • Launched directory of standing order pharmacies. Published an interactive online map featuring the locations of the more than 300 pharmacies selling naloxone without a prescription under a standing order.

August

Hosted medication-assisted treatment workshops. Two workshops were held for physicians, physician assistants, and advanced nurse practitioners regarding medication-assisted treatment. A total of 52 professionals attended these two events. One of the events was held in Waukesha, the other in Racine. The goal was to increase the number of providers offering medication-assisted treatment.

July

Awarded unmet treatment grants. Nearly $2.4 million in grants to 16 counties and three tribes were awarded to provide treatment to people addicted to opioids. (News release)

April

Received State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded Wisconsin about $15 million as part of its two-year State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant Program.

2016

December

Produced first webcast for local public health officers. The first episode of the opioid harm prevention webcast training series was offered as a live broadcast. (Archive recordings of the five most recent webcasts.)

November

Launched #HopeActLiveWI campaign. A press release was issued with 11 steps in the categories of hope (steps to protect health and safety), act (steps to limit the impact of addiction and overdoses on individuals, families, and communities), live (steps to create a path toward wellness). These tips were also shared on DHS Facebook and Twitter.

September

  • Received overdose prevention grant. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded Wisconsin a five-year (Sept. 2016-Aug. 2021), $5 million grant to prevent opioid overdoses and distribute naloxone.
  • Received prevention grant. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services awarded Wisconsin a five-year (Sept. 2016-2021), $1.8 million grant to prevent prescription drug abuse in high-risk areas.
  • Sponsored Rally for Recovery. The Rally for Recovery was held at the state Capitol. It was hosted by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery. More than 150 people attended to celebrate people in recovery and recognize the service providers who help people achieve wellness.
  • Issued public health advisory. Published a public health advisory (PDF) to inform Wisconsin residents of the alarming statistics of the opioid crisis in Wisconsin.

August

Signed statewide order for naloxone. Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Meiman, M.D., signed a statewide order for naloxone. It allowed participating pharmacies to sell naloxone without a prescription.

2015

October

Hosted medication-assisted treatment workshops. Three workshops were held for practitioners regarding medication-assisted treatment. Two events were held in Lac du Flambeau, the other in Milwaukee. The goal was to increase the number of providers offering medication-assisted treatment.

September

  • Received prevention grant. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded Wisconsin a grant valued at about $8.2 million to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse among 12-25 year-olds.
  • Hosted medication-assisted treatment workshops. Two workshops were held for practitioners regarding medication-assisted treatment. One event was held in Brookfield, the other in Eau Claire. The goal was to increase the number of providers offering medication-assisted treatment.
  • Sponsored Rally for Recovery. The Rally for Recovery was held at the state Capitol. It was hosted by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery. More than 100 people attended to celebrate people in recovery and recognize the service providers who help people achieve wellness.

August

Received medication-assisted treatment grant. Wisconsin was one of 11 states to receive a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to increase access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. The grant amount was $1 million per year for three years (Aug. 2015-July 2018). Columbia and Sauk counties were partners in this effort that admitted 245 individuals for treatment over the three years, exceeding the goals of the grant. More medical providers in the region are now providing at least two forms of medication-assisted treatment.

2014

September

Sponsored Rally for Recovery. The Rally for Recovery was held at the state Capitol. It was hosted by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery. About 100 people attended to celebrate people in recovery and recognize the service providers who help people achieve wellness.

April

Development of regional treatment centers in underserved areas. Work began to establish regional treatment centers in underserved areas of the state as directed by 2013 Wisconsin Act 195. Three centers serving northern Wisconsin opened in the fall of 2015.

Related information
Last Revised: February 21, 2019