Wisconsin Ranks Low for Drug Problems
Just four states have less of a drug problem, study finds.
That’s not to say the state has no challenges in this area. For instance, Wisconsin opioid-related deaths have more than tripled, going from 194 deaths in 2003 to 622 deaths in 2014, accounting for 75 percent of all drug-related deaths in the state, as a recent story in the Cap Times found.
But the state was still behind most in this area. Wisconsin ranked 31st in the number of drug overdose deaths, according to WalletHub.
The study by Wallet Hub, a personal-finance website that publishes many rankings of cities and states, compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia using 15 metrics in the three categories of drug use, law enforcement, and health issues and rehab. The District of Columbia ranked as the number one area for drug problems, ranking second-highest in both the percent of teen drug users and the percent of adult drug users. Wisconsin, by contrast, ranked 23rd in the percentage of teen drug users and 37th in the percentage of adult drug users. The state also ranked 31st in the number of drug overdose deaths per capita.
Prescription opioids are prescribed to people who have severe pain, an injury, or for recovery after surgery. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), of the 15 monitored prescribed drugs, over 53 percent were narcotics containing opioids, such as OxyContin, codeine, and Vicodin. Nationally, Alabama ranked number 1 in the number of opioid prescriptions per 100 people, while Wisconsin ranked 31st.
Even though Wisconsin ranked low compared to other states, it’s evident that drug abuse is continually increasing every year, just at a lower rate than elsewhere. For instance, the heroin death toll rose for the ninth straight year in 2015, causing 281 deaths; this is triple the number of heroin deaths in 2010, reported the Post-Crescent. Heroin is much less expensive than prescription opioids; this is a big reason why many people who abuse prescribed opioids switch to using heroin.
To combat the problem of opioid and other drug abuse, Wisconsin has implemented the Prescription Drug Monitoring System, requested grants, and developed specialized programs, like the state-funded Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) program, to further educate communities and provide medical-assisted treatment to those in need.
Fox21 reports that last year the HOPE Consortium and two other opioid treatment programs were granted a total of $2 million; $672,000 went to each program. With that help, collectively, they treated 277 patients, with 103 of them being treated at the HOPE Consortium.