Safe Communities

Safe Communities Madison-Dane County

Drug Poisoning Prevention from Safe Communities

Wisconsin Department of Justice Heroin Initiative Grant Awarded to Safe Communities “Stop the Overdose Epidemic” Collaboration

Thanks to leadership of Dane County Narcotics Task Force, Safe Communities has received a grant from Wisconsin Department of Justice to fund a school, community and law enforcement partnership to deliver evidence-based prevention education to youth and families.

An overarching goal of our initiative is to “speak with one voice” – and that this voice convey information and methods that result in reduction of opioid-related death and hospitalization.  The good news is that there is significant research on effective prevention approaches, and many existing resources from which to draw. 

Through this grant, Safe Communities is convening a Dane County Prevention Team of law enforcement, school ATODA staff and community ATODA prevention agencies to 1. develop two training sessions (1 for parents/adults; 1 for youth) available to anyone in Dane County who delivers ATODA prevention services and who'd like to use them;  and 2).  Create an "Education Clearinghouse" that will include resources, local data and a list of presenters for organizations interested in hosting prevention programs offered through the initiative.

We will also work with the team to support expansion of evidence-based, age appropriate prevention education offerings within school curriculum in participating communities. 

Anyone interested in being part of this effort is welcome to contact Cheryl Wittke, Safe Communities at (608) 256-6713.

Prescription Painkiller Deaths A Growing Epidemic, Especially in Women, CDC Reports

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 18 women die every day of a prescription painkiller overdose in the US, more than 6,600 deaths in 2010. Prescription painkiller overdoses are an under-recognized and growing problem for women. Read more information from the CDC about this epidemic. 

Drug Poisoning Summit Reunion - April, 2013

Once again, with the support of the City of Madison and Dane County, community partners convened at the Drug Poisoning Summit: Stop the Overdose Epidemic Reunion held at the American Family Insurance Training Center, on April 8, 2013, where WISC-TV Editorial Director Neil Heinen served as Emcee.   Health care, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, law enforcement, education, judicial and public policy leaders provided updates on steps taken by Safe Communities partners to address Dane County's drug poisoning epidemic, and we continued planning next steps.

Special thanks to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and City of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin for their leadership, and for their kind words in recognition of our work.   Thanks also to speakers representing each of the workgroups of the Stop the Overdose Epidemic Initiative, and the attendees for continuing the discussion on next steps. 

Drug Poisoning Summit Outlines Action Steps - January, 2012

With the support of the City of Madison and Dane County, Cheryl Wittke, Executive Director of Safe Communities, convened the Drug Poisoning Summit: Stop the Overdose Epidemic at the American Family Insurance Training Center, on January 30, 2012. Over 130 professionals from health care, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, law enforcement, education, courts and public policy focused their attention to first understanding the current status of drug poisoning and then discussing potential solutions.

Neil Heinen, Editorial Director of WISC-TV and Madison Magazine, moderated the Summit and welcomed participants with an experience that brought home to him the complexity and importance of the work being done. Following a welcome and note of appreciation from both Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, the morning presentation provided a review of the national, state and local data defining this deadly and troubling trend. Expert panel members shared insights. Thanks to Madison City Channel you have the opportunity to see and hear the Summit presentations.

Len Paulozzi, MD, MPH, with the Centers for Disease Control, encouraged Summit participants to make reasonable goals. The roots of this issue are deeply entrenched in our community requiring long-term solutions. He applauded the group for being willing to serve as a model for the rest of the state.

Armed with information from the morning's presenters, summit participants divided into breakout groups and brainstormed possible action steps to address the six strategy areas. A vote then determined the following priorities:

Reduce Access to Drugs

  • Expand MedDrop drug disposal to more sites
  • Launch communications campaign to be distributed at medication sources such as pharmacies, and physician and dental offices stressing the importance of safe storage and disposal
  • Support Police Departments outreach efforts to pharmacies to create awareness of resources available to help stem pharmaceutical drug abuse

Reduce Inappropriate Prescription Use

  • Form County-wide Collaboration including physicians, dentists, health plans, pharmacists, hospitals to develop prescriber guidelines
  • Develop education materials specifically for chronic pain patients addressing use, misuse and proper storage and disposal

Substance Abuse Primary Prevention

  • Explore alliances with school AODA/Guidance counselors to incorporate prescription drug policies into school and athletic codes.
  • Provide targeted education to youth professionals based on evidence-based practice

Early Intervention, Treatment & Recovery

  • Form County-wide collaboration of all parties involved with early intervention, treatment and recovery including Mental Health providers, AODA counselors to explore development of Clearinghouse for advocacy & referral
  • Expand available medication-assisted treatment

Overdose Intervention/Harm Reduction

  • Expand use and access to Narcan administration by Emergency Medical Technicians and other first responders, such as law enforcement
  • Provide targeted education to those at high risk of overdose
  • Involve Law Enforcement, Judicial Community and Treatment providers in the development of Good Samaritan Policy

Drug Poisoning Collaboration: Stopping the Overdose Epidemic

The trend is alarming: poisoning is now Dane County's number one cause of injury death, surpassing motor vehicle crashes. Misuse or abuse of prescription, over-the-counter or illicit drugs are the cause of 85% of poisoning deaths. Of particular concern are opiate pain medications. Research indicates that prescription opiates are a gateway to heroin use in Dane County and nationwide.

City of Madison and Dane County have joined forces to reverse this deadly and troubling trend. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and Dane County Joe Parisi added funding to their 2012 budgets and called on Safe Communities to lead a collaborative effort to address this multi-faceted problem.

"Every day we read about another case of tragedy or near death tragedy. This menace can occur any where at any time, and we must begin addressing it immediately," says Dane County Executive Parisi.

"This is a devastating issue that affects individuals and families throughout the city and the county," says Mayor Soglin. "The most effective way to fight this epidemic is through partnerships and the funding of resources."

"An effort this important requires an extensive community-wide, collaborative approach," says Cheryl Wittke, Executive Director of Safe Communities. Over 40 partners representing law enforcement, drug treatment and health care providers, judges and attorneys, emergency responders, public health leaders and policy makers attended the press conference to kick off this essential safety effort. "I'm proud to partner with the city and the county in this initiative, and look forward to working with our partners to come up with solutions."

Work groups began their work fall 2011 and have focused on the following areas:

  • Reducing access to drugs through drug enforcement, reduced misuse of prescription drugs, improved disposal of household pharmaceuticals, and community education campaigns.
  • Reducing inappropriate prescription drug use that can often lead to an escalated addiction to opiates and heroin by partnering with the health care community.
  • Improving poisoning intervention to reduce overdose deaths.
  • Early intervention, drug treatment, and recovery efforts through family and community assisted intervention efforts, detox and recovery programs, and alternatives to incarceration.
  • Integration of mental health care to address some of the root causes of addiction.
  • Substance abuse prevention through school based programs, drug free coalitions and other community partners.

For updates on this effort please follow us on Facebook and register for email updates.