December 3, Wisconsin Health News
A Milwaukee task force finalized recommendations Friday on how to reduce drug misuse and overdoses.
The recommendations from the City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force aim to guide efforts in Milwaukee County. The task force hopes to implement the changes through grants and collaboration.
Alderman Michael Murphy, who co-chairs the task force, noted that more than 400 people died last year from overdoses. He recently received new data from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office showing a decline.
“Right now, god willing, if things hold, we’ll see a 25 percent reduction compared to last year,” he said. “So that’s a great story.”
Murphy wants to determine what’s working and support those programs. The task force plans to continue to meet and follow up on the recommendations.
“Sometimes, being in government, you look at reports and you wonder if they just gather dust after they’re done,” he said. “We don’t intend to have that happen.”
Among the changes the report recommends are:
- A widespread public health education campaign on substance abuse as well as efforts targeting children and teenagers.
- Collaborating with local medical groups to increase use of the Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
- Supporting harm reduction strategies beyond anti-overdose drugs like Naloxone, including rapid testing kits for drugs users to test substances for fentanyl and safe needle exchanges.
- Developing a system for rapidly detecting spikes in overdoses in the county to ensure that resources target high-need areas.
- Pursuing policies that incentivize property owners to rent to those in recovery.
- Integrating medication-assisted treatment into federally qualified health centers, opioid treatment programs, prisons and other places.
- Expanding drug courts that offer treatment to those serving time in prison.