Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Press Release

State Health Agency’s New Data Tool Shows a Decline in the Number of Opioid Deaths in Wisconsin

The 838 deaths reported in 2018 is a 10 percent reduction from the year before

By - Aug 14th, 2019 03:06 pm

Opioid deaths are at their lowest level since 2015 according to the most recent data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and reported through a new online tool featuring interactive charts, graphs, and maps, Data Direct: Opioids.

“The most recent data on Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic is encouraging,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “It shows that our collective ongoing efforts to support individuals and communities affected by this public health crisis are working to save lives, but we still have a lot of work to do to end this epidemic.”
The new online tool unveiled today, known as Data Direct: Opioids, contains the most up-to-date information collected by DHS on adult opioid usage, youth opioid usage, opioid hospitalizations, and opioid-related deaths. The data is provided in the form of counts, rates, and percentages. Users can change the visuals to display the information by year, drug type, age, sex, and race.

The Data Direct: Opioids dashboards show:

  • An estimated 1 in 6 Wisconsin adults were prescribed and used an opioid in the past year. The top reasons for opioid prescriptions were for pain related to surgeries and back pain.
  • Hospital emergency room visits for all opioid-related overdoses in Wisconsin increased from 2014 to 2018 by 64 percent. However, inpatient stays for overdoses from 2014 to 2018 decreased by 15 percent.
  • The number of opioid-related deaths in Wisconsin in 2018 was 838, according to data reported as of June 30, 2019. That’s a 10 percent decrease from the 932 deaths reported in 2017. In 2016, there were 850 opioid-related deaths.

The data displayed in the dashboards is adjusted monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on how often the source of the information is updated. The data sources include death and hospital records maintained by DHS, the Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

“The data presented in the dashboards gives people the information they need to more quickly gain a sense of changes, trends, and concerning behaviors to help guide efforts to save lives,” said DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives Paul Krupski. “We are continuing to invest in prevention and harm reduction programs, expand access to treatment, and support for individuals and families in their journey to long-term recovery through partnerships with tribal governments, other state agencies, county agencies, and community organizations.”

Data Direct: Opioids is funded by grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is the first step in a multi-year initiative by DHS to make health data more available.

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