The Opioid Epidemic

Milwaukee County Opioid-Related Overdose Report

Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain. Medical professionals can prescribe opioids, but there are also illegal opioids. The increase of opioid prescriptions for pain has increased production and availability of pills such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and methadone. Because opioids purchased illegally can be expensive, individuals addicted to opioids can turn to heroin, a cheaper alternative. Heroin and opioid pain killers belong to the same class of drug, opiates, so the “high” users experience is the same.

Overdose deaths from opioids have increased substantially in the Milwaukee area. Out of the 878 drug overdose deaths in Wisconsin in 2015, 255 (29.0%) were from Milwaukee County. In Milwaukee County, 42.7% of the overdose deaths in 2015 involved heroin.

Published data reports:

Version I: Released 1.16.17
Version II: Released 6.21.17
Version III: Released 11.27.17

Local and National Data

Milwaukee Community Opioid Prevention Effort (COPE):

We completed an in-depth analysis of the most current medical examiner and EMS data of opioid-related overdoses in Milwaukee County. We prepared a data report that includes a comprehensive overview of demographics of the epidemic as well as detailed maps outlining EMS response location for suspected opioid-related overdose based on naloxone administration, opioid-related overdose death location, and residence of the deceased.

Healthy Wisconsin: Opioids

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) – https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse

Overdose and NARCAN Use Maps from the North Shore – http://www.nshealthdept.org/heroin

*888 Bodies and Counting Report – City of Milwaukee –  http://media.jrn.com/documents/888+and+Counting+Report_CouncilPresidentOffice_3.18.2016.pdf

EMS Recommendations

As a result of findings on the sharp increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Milwaukee, we initiated an in-depth review of the current EMS naloxone administration protocol and provided evidence to support recommended changes to maximum dose protocol. These changes have been made and are being implemented.

On November 1, 2017, the White House announced the release of Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders. To access this document, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/key-issues/fentanyl

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