Brown Deer native Paul Krupski has been named the director of opioid initiatives for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

In the newly formed position, Krupski will help lead the state’s effort in battling the opioid crisis. The position is part of Governor Scott Walker’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse, which included a $17 million investment to improve access to substance abuse and mental health treatment.

According to the Department of Health Services, the rate of opioid prescription deaths in Racine County has increased to 15.3 per 1,000 residents in 2015 from 7.2, a 113 percent increase compared to the number in 2006. Hospital stays for patients encountering opioid issues in Racine County have also increased to 50.7 per 1,000 residents from 29.7, a 71 percent increase.

“Opioid overdoses and the misuses of opioids, either heroin or prescription pain medications, affects every corner of the state and is destroying families,” said DHS Secretary Linda Seemeyer. “We must do whatever we can to end the heartbreak affecting so many. Paul’s experience and skills support our efforts to make sure that our response to this crisis is as aggressive and effective as possible.”

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social change and development, Krupski’s career has focused on administering and implementing substance abuse policies and strategies. He previously worked as a prevention coordinator with the division of care and treatment services. He also worked as a preparedness training and exercise coordinator for the division of public health office of preparedness and emergency healthcare.

“Almost every division in DHS is involved in some way with fighting the opioid epidemic,” Krupski said. “I look forward to bringing all of those efforts together to meet this crisis head-on and put an end to the devastation to individuals, families, and communities that are caused by opioid misuse.”

Editor’s note: If you or someone you care about has an addiction issue, here’s a list of resources in Racine County: resourcebrochure2016.doc.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.