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MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is seeking public input for how to use an estimated $8 million coming from a second round of opioid settlement funds.

The second year of funding can be used for existing programs or toward new projects to address the impacts of the opioid epidemic in communities statewide.

Opioid settlement survey

People can make their recommendations for use of the opioid settlement funds in a survey now through Feb. 17. The survey is available in English and Spanish.

“The responses we received from the public and partners during listening sessions last year reminded us that addressing opioid use disorder in communities is not one-size-fits-all,” Paul Krupski, DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives, said in a news release for the opioid settlement. “Our plan reflects the specific needs of Wisconsinites, and we intend to use feedback from this year’s survey to do the same.”

The state of Wisconsin received the funds in a 2022 opioid settlement with three major pharmaceutical distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen) and Johnson & Johnson. Payments from the distributors will continue for 18 years. Payments from Johnson & Johnson will continue for nine years.

Following the public input and internal review, the DHS will submit a plan for the anticipated settlement funds with the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) for approval. Last year, the JFC-approved plan totaled $31 million of which about one-third of the spending was dedicated toward the renovation or construction of drug care and treatment facilities statewide.

Wisconsin’s response to the opioid crisis

Wisconsin has made huge strides to address opioid use disorder in the state since a nationwide opioid epidemic was identified in the early 2000s, DHS reported. This includes immediate and long-term projects like expanding the availability of NARCAN® to reverse opioid overdoses, making fentanyl strips more widely available, and planning to expand the hub-and-spoke health program which treats the whole person, not just the substance use disorder.

While data for 2022 has yet to be finalized, 2021 data show there were 1,427 opioid overdose deaths in Wisconsin. An increase in overdose deaths can be traced in large part to the addition of fentanyl, a powerful, synthetic drug, in substances like opioids.

If you or someone you love needs help for an opioid use disorder or other substance use issue, contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline. Call 211 or 877-947-2211.

Credit: Wisconsin DHS

For more information on opioid use disorder, prevention, and treatment options, visit the Dose of Reality webpages.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...