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DHS and DOJ announce “Dose of Reality” round-table discussions on Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic

Statewide tour will include local community leaders and partners to talk about what we can do to save lives

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are announcing a series of roundtable discussions to hear directly from local communities who are working toward preventing overdose deaths in the state and helping Wisconsinites struggling with opioid use.

“We are calling these roundtable discussions a “Dose of Reality” because we want to hear the reality of Wisconsinites experiences in their own communities,” said DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson. “We want to understand our partners’ current situation, hear what is needed to address opioid use in their community, and celebrate their successes.”

Last year, 1,421 Wisconsinites died by opioid overdose. There were also 2,530 opioid-related trips to emergency departments, and 978 hospitalizations. Drugs mixed with fentanyl account for most of the overdose deaths.

“The hundreds of millions of dollars we’ve helped to secure will support a more comprehensive approach to combating the opioid epidemic,” said Attorney General Kaul. “I am looking forward to hearing from folks around the state about the impact these funds are having and what more we can do to fight this public health crisis.”

The Dose of Reality roundtable discussions will be held in six Wisconsin communities with community leaders and partners who received a portion of the opioid settlement funds. DHS received about $31 million in opioid settlement payments in state fiscal year 2023. Wisconsin is expected to receive more than $740 million in total funding through 2038 from opioid settlements. 2021 Wisconsin Act 57

requires that the 87 local governments that participated in this litigation receive 70 percent of the funds, with the state receiving 30 percent of the funds. Many of these communities have received additional funds from DHS and federal sources that are used for prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services.

The first Dose of Reality roundtable discussion was hosted today in Madison. Attorney General Kaul and Secretary-designee Johnson met with public health officials, law enforcement agencies, recovery treatment organizations, and members of school-based prevention programs. Other discussions will take place around the state through the month of December.

Dose of Reality is a joint effort of DHS and DOJ. Find more information about opioids, data, prevention, harm reduction, and treatment and recovery resources on the Dose of Reality webpages.

If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, visit the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline website or call 211 for information on substance use treatment and recovery services.

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