Matthew D. Krueger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced the launch of a new public awareness campaign to prevent opioid-related overdose deaths in Southeast Wisconsin. In addition, the Department of Justice awarded two grants totaling $1.7 million to address opioid and other substance misuse in Milwaukee County.
Southeast Wisconsin has continued to experience high rates of overdose deaths related to opioids. In Milwaukee County alone, through August 2020, 313 individuals have died of opioid-related overdoses, which represents a 42% increase from the same time in 2019. An increasing number of those overdose deaths involve synthetic opioids like fentanyl, with fentanyl being involved in over 70% of overdoses deaths in the first half of 2020.
To raise awareness of the dangers of opioid use—especially the prevalence of fentanyl—and to encourage individuals using opioids to seek treatment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has launched a public awareness campaign in partnership with the North Central High Intensity Drug Treatment Area (HIDTA) program. The campaign will include messages displayed on billboards and social media throughout Southeast Wisconsin. The campaign also encourages people to call or visit online 211 which can refer individuals to treatment resources.
“The widespread presence of fentanyl has made drug use more dangerous than ever,” said U.S. Attorney Krueger. “This campaign will warn people of the dangers of drug use and encourage individuals to seek treatment.”
As detailed in another press release issued today, the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) awarded more than $341 million to communities nationwide to address substance misuse and the opioid epidemic. Two of these grants will fund efforts to reduce overdose deaths in Milwaukee County.
First, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office (MCMEO) in partnership with Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the Milwaukee Community Justice Council (CJC), has been awarded $1.2 million for a three-year grant to develop a Milwaukee Overdose Public Health and Safety Team (OD-PHAST). According to the grant recipients, the cross-sector OD-PHAST will utilize near real-time data and information from case reviews to develop and implement recommendations to help prevent future overdoses. The grant funds will also increase capacity to deliver toxicology findings to public health and safety partners and expand efforts to connect families, and in particular children, to services to mitigate the impact of the trauma experienced by overdose deaths in the community. The MCMEO and partners will plan to announce further details as the project planning develops.
Second, Milwaukee County Combined Courts was awarded a three year $500,000 Adult Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Court Discretionary Grant. According to the County, through this grant Milwaukee’s Adult Drug Treatment Court (DTC) and Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) programs will continue to serve high risk/high need individuals with a substance use disorder. Participants will have access to additional holistic services including sober living facilities to aid in their recovery. Transparent and consistent drug testing and peer mentoring will also be enhanced and aid in the recovery process.
Finally, the public is reminded that this Saturday, October 24, 2020, is DEA’s Drug Takeback Day. At numerous sites around the State, unused prescription drugs can be safely returned, which ensures that the prescription drugs will not be abused. To learn more or find a takeback site, visit www.DEAtakeback.com.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.
# # #
For further information contact: Public Information Officer Kenneth Gales
Follow us on Twitter