Milwaukee County Experiencing Record Overdose Deaths
2022 outpacing 2021, which saw a record number of overdose deaths.
Milwaukee County is on pace to set another record for drug overdose deaths for the third year in a row.
Most of the deaths being seen across Milwaukee and the state involve the powerful drug fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Community members say awareness about the prevalence of fentanyl in more street drugs is key to reducing overdoses.
“She is one of the people that has overdosed and has survived. We don’t know if the next time will be the same result, but we want to make sure that there isn’t a next time,” Sparkman said.
Sparkman wants to see more messaging about the issue, so people are aware of resources available for those who suffer from substance use disorders. She believes about 1 in 5 people she knows in Milwaukee are using some kind of controlled substance — from opioids to marijuana.
“The misuse is widespread,” she said.
“They use it because of some kind of other post-traumatic relief and trying to escape reality, not wanting to deal with what they’re going through, so it’s very prominent,” she added. “It’s out there. It’s everywhere.”
There were 644 drug overdose deaths in Milwaukee County last year. Around 80 percent of the drug deaths logged involved fentanyl, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner‘s Office.
In 2020, the last full year of data available from the state, 1,277 Wisconsinites died from a drug overdose death. Twenty years ago, that figure was just 111.
Wisconsin has been dealing with an opioid epidemic for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social isolation played a role in exacerbating the opioid crisis. A 2021 Wisconsin Department of Health Services report pointed to the increase in stress and isolation being seen from the pandemic as possible reasons for the increase across the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also issued a public health advisory about fentanyl last week.
According to provisional data from the state, the number of fentanyl overdose deaths grew by 97 percent from 2019 to 2021. In the last year, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, were identified in 73 percent of all drug overdose deaths. The substance was found in 91 percent of all opioid overdose deaths.
DHS announced on Aug. 1 it had received more than $6 million from the National Prescription Opiate Litigation settlement funds. The department plans to spend much of that money on Narcan and on fentanyl testing strips, which can be used to identify the presence of fentanyl in unregulated drugs.
Milwaukee County on pace to set another record for drug overdose deaths in 2022 was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
- MKE County: Drug Settlements Could Help Expand Opioid Addiction Programs - Graham Kilmer - Sep 21st, 2023
- DHS Awards Funding to Law Enforcement Agencies Working to Address the Opioid Epidemic - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Sep 21st, 2023
- Milwaukee County Announces Locations of 11 ‘Harm Reduction Vending Machines’ to Combat Death from Overdose - County Executive David Crowley - Aug 8th, 2023
- Attorney General Kaul Joins Law Enforcement, Public Health Officials Across Wisconsin to Highlight Additional NARCAN® from Opioid Settlements - Wisconsin Department of Justice - Aug 8th, 2023
- Narcan Vending Machines Arrive in County - Isiah Holmes - Aug 8th, 2023
- DHS Announces Expansion of Harm Reduction Efforts - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Jun 29th, 2023
- ‘They Die So Quickly’ From Fentanyl - Max Stapleton - Jun 26th, 2023
- Report Finds 1000% Increase in Fentanyl-Related Deaths - Isiah Holmes - Jun 13th, 2023
- Teva, Allergan, CVS, and Walgreens Finalize Opioid Settlement Agreements - Wisconsin Department of Justice - Jun 9th, 2023
- Current BOZA inconsistency and dysfunction detrimental to serving the public - Ald. Lamont Westmoreland - Jun 7th, 2023
Read more about Opioid Crisis here