Latest News

  • July 31, 2019 11:43 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    July 31, Wisconsin Health News

    Milwaukee’s Common Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday allowing Milwaukee’s city attorney to file suit against drugmakers and distributors that could be held responsible for damages from the opioid epidemic.

    The resolution allows the city to retain outside counsel for the litigation. It notes that thousands of governmental entities – including Milwaukee County last year and Wisconsin this May – have filed lawsuits over the epidemic.

    The resolution now heads to Mayor Tom Barrett's office.

    The action comes as Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office reported a total of 14 probable overdose deaths between Friday and Monday morning.

    On Monday, the Milwaukee Community Opioid Prevention Effort released a report showing a 10 percent decline in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018.

    There were 302 opioid-related overdose deaths last year, down from 337 in the prior year.

    Around 62 percent of all overdose deaths last year involved fentanyl, either alone or in combination with other drugs, an increase from the prior year.

    The group estimated in its report that for every death, there were five more people who experienced an overdose that survived.

    In 2016, the rate of opioid overdose death in the county was double the rate of Wisconsin, showing the crisis is “disproportionately impacting Milwaukee County and its citizens,” the report noted.

    Last week, the City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force met to review efforts to fight the epidemic.

    Those efforts included:

    ·    A June awareness event, modeled after a similar initiative in Dayton, Ohio, that aimed to connect those suffering from substance use disorder with treatment. Task force members said the event should happen regularly.

    ·    A $20,000 awareness campaign by the Milwaukee Health Department, funded by a grant from the Department of Health Services, that city officials hope to launch in August.

    ·    The Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management has applied for a $600,000 grant that would help emergency medical services, law enforcement and hospital systems track overdoses in real time. 

    The Milwaukee Overdose Response Initiative, an effort by the Milwaukee Fire Department, has been working to follow up with overdose victims and connect them to treatment. 

  • July 22, 2019 11:09 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    WISAM Members In the News

    All Ways Forward; University of Wisconsin - Madison

    When Eric Smiltneek ’01, MD’06 was in medical school, he dreamed of being able to help both individuals and an entire community. Today his dual roles in Oshkosh as a family medicine doctor at ThedaCare Physicians and a medical director at Nova, an addiction-treatment center, have allowed him to do just that. “I’ve enjoyed both being a family and a community doctor,” he says.

    After earning his UW undergraduate degree, Smiltneek spent a year with AmeriCorps in Chicago, where he learned about substance abuse and its devastating impact. When he returned to UW–Madison for medical school, he says, “I had fantastic mentors.” Dr. Michael Miller in particular encouraged him to continue his work with addiction, and Miller still serves as a mentor for Smiltneek today. “Even 10 to 15 years out, I’m still learning from the people I was learning from at the UW,” Smiltneek says.

    After arriving in Oshkosh, he first focused on treating prescription-drug addiction and then helped to address the expanding heroin epidemic. Smiltneek is also involved with a Wisconsin Department of Corrections pilot program to help recently released nonviolent drug offenders. The program, he says, has doubled or even tripled the number of clients able to avoid relapse after one year.

    Smiltneek also approaches addiction from a prevention angle. A former member of the Wisconsin Hoofers with a lifelong passion for the outdoors, he leads a youth sailing club and he also founded Dr. Eric’s Skate Club in Oshkosh to lay the foundation for appreciating physical activities at a young age.

    “I realized what an awesome release this was for stress and feeling sad and needing something exciting to happen,” he says. “If people can have something that gets them outside and find something that really grounds them, then I hope the need for drugs and alcohol is less, and we can get more healthy addictions.”

  • July 17, 2019 4:40 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has identified the Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine as a key stakeholder to participate in a needs assessment of the behavioral health service system in our state.

    WISAM members are invited and encouraged to participate in a Behavioral Health Gaps Survey, comprised of approximately 10 topics ranging from service availability, accessibility, and service gaps for subpopulations.

    Participation in the survey is both anonymous and voluntary, and is estimated to take approximately 30 minutes or less to complete. Please:

    • Complete survey prior to the deadline of August 9, 2019.
    • Complete the survey only once even if you receive multiple invitations.
    • Use the same computer if you need to complete the survey in more than one sitting. The survey link will take you to the point you stopped as long as you use the same computer. 
    • Direct all questions or problems with the survey to Abra Vigna, lead staff a UW-PHI,


    Thank you for your participation. 

  • July 01, 2019 5:25 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    A message from Mike Miller, MD, DFASAM, WISAM's Public Policy Chair

    The advocacy positions of the AMA are very aligned with those of ASAM.  With its rich history and broad membership, AMA's presence and clout opens doors in the legislative arena and Congress pays attention.  Below is an excerpt of a recent AMA Advocacy Update.  I encourage you to stay abreast of these updates.

    AMA Advocacy Update,  June 27, 2019

    ISSUE SPOTLIGHT: Funding boost needed to close treatment gap for patients with opioid use disorder

    The nation's opioid epidemic is worsening as policy, regulatory and especially insurance barriers continue to block access to treatment, AMA President-elect Susan R. Bailey, MD, told Congress.

    "The good news is that we know that there are policy and clinical interventions that work and have a direct impact on saving lives and improving care," Dr. Bailey testified last week at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. "The bad news is there is a huge gap in access to treatment. It is estimated that less than 35% of adults with opioid-use disorder had received treatment for it in 2018."

    Progress continues on multiple fronts. As shown in the AMA Opioid Task Force's 2019 progress report, physicians have significantly lowered the number of opioid prescriptions they write and there are rising numbers of doctors registering with and using their state prescription drug monitoring program, getting certified to provide in-office buprenorphine and prescribing naloxone for at-risk patients.

    Medical societies in several states have used the AMA's model legislation to remove commercial and Medicaid prior authorization barriers to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 

    Read more.

  • June 24, 2019 5:10 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Fellow designation gives recognition to and raises awareness of ASAM members who are board certified addiction specialists. ASAM Fellows are able to use the FASAM designation after their name.

    To qualify for the FASAM designation, physicians must be members of ASAM for two consecutive years and be currently certified in Addiction Medicine. 

    Learn more to see if you qualify!

  • June 20, 2019 9:08 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    While Wisconsin and other states have made progress snuffing out cigarette smoking, youth vaping is on the rise. One in five high school students regularly used e-cigarettes in 2018, a jump in use the Department of Health Services has called an epidemic.

    What led to this rise? And what are its overall health implications? What’s being done to address the issue?

    A Wisconsin Health News panel on July 9 in Madison will tackle these questions and more.


    • Jeanne Ayers, Public Health Division Administrator, Department of Health Services
    • Sen. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere
    • Dr. James Meyer, Pediatrician, Marshfield Clinic Health System
    • Dona Wininsky, Director of Advocacy, Grassroots and Patient Engagement, American Lung Association of Wisconsin

    Register now.

  • June 06, 2019 12:23 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    June 4, Wisconsin Health News

    The federal government awarded two Wisconsin groups with $200,000 one-year grants to develop plans to provide treatment for those impacted by the opioid epidemic, according to a recent statement.

    The Health Resources and Services Administration's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy provided $24 million across 40 states for the programs.

    One of the grants will head to HSHS St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay. The hospital runs the Libertas Treatment Center in Marinette, which will use the grant, as well as $20,000 from the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis Foundation, to operate the Heroin Opioid Prevention Education Consortium.

    The consortium will assess resources available for prevention and treatment of substance use disorders in Oconto, Marinette, Menominee, Shawano and Florence counties. It’ll identify what else is needed and develop a plan to build on current services.

    “The HOPE Consortium will allow us to ramp up our efforts in preventing and treating these disorders that are having devastating effects on people of all ages and all walks of life,” Paula Manley, executive director at Libertas, said in a statement.

    The other $200,000 grant will head to the Family Health Center of Marshfield at Marshfield Clinic Health System. It’ll conduct an analysis in Wood and Clark counties to identify gaps in substance use disorder treatment and create plans to support those services.

    Greg Nycz, executive director of the center, wrote in an email that they applied for the grant “because there are many in our community who need help with substance use disorders and access to the continuum of services that lead to success is problematic all across northern and central Wisconsin."

  • May 30, 2019 12:18 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    May 30, Wisconsin Health News 

    There's been an increase in the prescribing of medication used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, according to a recent report.

    The number of pharmacy-dispensed prescriptions for suboxone increased 21 percent between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of this year, noted a quarterly report from the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

    The number of prescriptions went from 36,828 to 44,561 over the period. That doesn't include dispensing that occurs at a federally funded opioid treatment program. 

    Suboxone was the fourteenth most dispensed drug monitored by the program, according to the report. 

  • May 14, 2019 1:31 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Hello WISAM members,

    With the end of the academic year fast upon us, many of us will be taking time off. I just returned from a three week trip to Egypt. While there, my partner and I found ourselves among an amazing group of people from around the globe, all of whom were doing their part to make the world a better place. It expanded my mind on multiple fronts as we met a banker from Luxembourg during our first night in Cairo. I hadn't considered that anyone in the banking profession would be doing anything of a world-healing nature, but this man spent most of his time in his native South Africa providing loans for projects that would help people rise out of poverty.

    We also met people in the healthcare field and on comparing notes, the similarities of the challenges treating patients with addiction issues far outweigh the differences in rich vs poor countries, religious affiliations, and different cultural and ethnic groups. There were some interesting differences as well, such as Tramadol being one of the most abused opioids in Egypt, possession of which is punishable by long imprisonment.

    So, as we start our summer excursions, our connectedness to those around us matters, as does our willingness to learn. This is as true for those we talk to during an unexpected encounter as it is for those we treat clinically.

    WISAM will be a little quieter during the summer months as we take time off from our monthly teleconferences after the May call. However, we continue to plan for the WISAM 2019 Annual Conference taking place September 26-27 in Madison.

    Please stay connected! As an organization, WISAM is only as strong as our involvement with all of you, our members.

    Matt Felgus, MD FASAM

  • May 08, 2019 3:54 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    On May 8, 2019, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, State Representatives Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) released a report documenting that expanding Medicaid would reduce financial barriers to accessing critical anti-opioid medications for working Wisconsinites. 

    WISAM Public Policy Chair, Michael Miller, MD, participated in the news conference, which took place in the Senate Parlor at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, WI. 

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