Opioid Overdoses Skyrocket During Pandemic
Opioid overdoses are up 117 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
COVID-19 is compounding drug and alcohol problems across Wisconsin, with opioid overdoses increasing by 117 percent since the start of the pandemic compared to the same time in 2019, according to preliminary Department of Health Services data.
A state lawmaker from LaCrosse said if the current trajectory continues, her area will certainly surpass last year’s total number of overdoses.
“Like other parts of the state, as people are suffering from the stressors of COVID (and) isolation, we’re seeing more issues with misuse and abuse. That also includes alcohol with more people coming to emergency rooms,” said Rep. Jill Billings during an Aug. 7 meeting for the State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.
The DHS released the preliminary data from emergency departments in late July showing there were 325 suspected opioid overdoses during a period from March to July, compared to 150 suspected overdoses during the same period in 2019.
“I think it’s because people are afraid to get the help they need because of the COVID virus, and unfortunately we’re losing a lot of precious souls out there,” said Kevin Florek, the CEO of Tellurian and a member of the council.
The facility has ramped up telehealth so patients can get counseling virtually. In other parts of the state, that’s not possible due to the lack of sufficient broadband.
“We do not have high-speed internet in many areas outside the city limits, so Zoom meetings are not an option,” explained Terry Schemenauer, a council member from Ashland.
Those with substance abuse disorder or mental health issues include the homeless. Council member Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Mason, is concerned those now living outside won’t be able to do so when temperatures drop.
“When winter comes, many of them will die,” she said.
Bewley expressed doubt that Congress would provide more federal money through a second relief bill to address homelessness and addiction, leaving the problem to local and state governments that have seen finances plummet with the pandemic.
Drug And Alcohol Use Up During Coronavirus Pandemic, DHS Data Suggests was published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
- Wisconsin Awarded $16.7 Million Federal Grant to Counter Addictions to Opioids and Stimulants - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Sep 18th, 2020
- City Hall: City Expands Program To Fight Overdoses - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 2nd, 2020
- Knowing the Signs Can Help Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Aug 31st, 2020
- Regional meeting on opioid epidemic included Senator Baldwin - Ald. Michael Murphy - Aug 12th, 2020
- Opioid Overdoses Skyrocket During Pandemic - Shamane Mills - Aug 8th, 2020
- New Opioid “Iso” Hitting Milwaukee - Isiah Holmes - Jul 29th, 2020
- Isotonitazene (iso) – A new synthetic opioid discovered as powerful as fentanyl - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Jul 22nd, 2020
- Maps Tell Story of City’s Overdose Crisis - Isiah Holmes - Jul 10th, 2020
- Wisconsin Accepting Applications to Pilot New Approach to Treating Substance Use Disorders - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Jul 6th, 2020
- Milwaukee County Headed for Record Overdoses in 2020 - Edgar Mendez - Jun 19th, 2020
Read more about Opioid Crisis here