Waukesha County Executive Farrow: Declares fentanyl a community health crisis

(Waukesha, Wisconsin) – Today, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow declared fentanyl a public health crisis. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine, is fueling overdose deaths in the US and Wisconsin.

Today’s statement includes county directives to:

  • Allocate opioid settlement money, in partnership with the County Council, to support Narcan training, the District Attorney’s pretrial diversion programs, and other related purposes.
  • Implement Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) initiatives in partnership with public and private entities and surrounding counties to share data and best practices.
  • Launch a local public information initiative using the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s One Pill Can Kill campaign.
  • Create a set of measurable goals to track the county’s anti-fentanyl efforts that will be evaluated on a quarterly basis.

“A lot of people think they’re taking prescription drugs, but instead they’re taking fentanyl,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “This deadly drug is showing up in every community in the United States, including here at home. Now we are doubling down on our work to save lives.”

Illegally manufactured fentanyl is often found in counterfeit pills that are made to look like prescription drugs. This includes prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone or stimulants. Individuals are at risk of fentanyl poisoning if they take pills from a source other than a licensed pharmacy.

In Waukesha County, drug-related deaths became the leading unnatural cause of death for adults ages 18-45 in 2020 and 2021, led by an increase in fentanyl poisoning. Waukesha County saw a record ninety-five drug-related deaths in 2020. In 2021, at least ninety-two people died of drug-related causes, with ten cases still under investigation.

Overdose prevention efforts in Waukesha County

The Fentanyl Community Health Crisis Declaration is just one of the many ways Waukesha County is working to combat the opioid crisis. Waukesha County uses a collective impact approach through multiple programs focused on prevention, treatment and law enforcement.

  • On Monday, July 25, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department announced that its metro narcotics unit will transition to a unit of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) later this year. As a federal task force, the Metro Drug Unit will have an enhanced ability to continue to reduce the availability of controlled substances in Waukesha County. They will also be able to conduct investigations that lead to providers outside of Waukesha County. I study More ▼.

  • Waukesha County is working to expand a program which embeds a counselor in the sheriff’s department to expedite care for mental health crises.

  • In May, Waukesha County leaders announced new efforts for community substance use prevention by providing approximately $200,000 to expand school and community prevention efforts.

  • Earlier this year, the Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) added an additional full-time Peer Support Specialist to the outpatient mental health and substance use services clinic staff.

  • The Waukesha County Heroin Task Force has renewed its collaborative work to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic in the county. Action teams of key community stakeholders work together in three key areas: Prevention, Harm Reduction and Treatment and Recovery to achieve results within a calendar year.

  • HHS maintains a strong relationship withWaukesha County AODA Volunteersthat provide valuable outreach, education and support services to individuals in recovery or who are considering drug or alcohol abstinence.

  • The Women’s Health and Recovery Project(WHARP), coordinated by Waukesha County HHS, supports women with substance use disorders and their children who have complex needs with issues such as housing, employment, mental health, physical health, transportation, and child care.

  • From May 2017 to July 23, 2022, more than 305 documented lives have been saved, at least 303 have used the overdose reversal drug Naloxone/Narcan, as a result of Waukesha County’s HHS Naloxone Project.

  • From May 2017 to June 2022, people who use, their family members and friends, first responders, and the general public were assisted by: 521 trainings on administering naloxone to 4,918 individuals, which included 1,048 law enforcement officials. 7,170 Naloxone kits were distributed free of charge.

  • Waukesha County participates in numerous statewide initiatives such as the National Drug Treatment Court Prescription Drug Day and the Wisconsin Injection Drug Use Prevention Project

For Waukesha County

The mission of Waukesha County government is to promote the health, safety and quality of life of citizens while fostering an economically vibrant community. More information can be found atwww.waukeshacounty.gov. Follow us atFacebookat andTwitterfor updates on county programs and events. More information about Waukesha County’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis can be found atwww.waukeshacounty.gov/overdose.

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