Opioid overdoses quietly increasing amid pandemic

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Wisconsin, there's another epidemic health officials are dealing with. 

Opioid overdose deaths are also increasing. 

"We are really right now facing an epidemic within a pandemic," Attorney General Josh Kaul said.

The controlled substances board's annual meeting is discussing the increase in opioid overdose deaths this year.

"We’ve seen hospitalizations for opioid overdoses increase and DHS and other experts believe COVID-19-related isolation and stress are at least partly to blame," Gov. Tony Evers said.

Wisconsin officials say, while the opioid epidemic might have taken a backseat to COVID-19, it's a growing problem for Wisconsinites. 

The attorney general says while there is a decrease in opioid prescriptions, there's an increase in other types of drugs such as methamphetamine and fentanyl. 

That could be related to factors of COVID-19. 

"Social isolation, people are under enormous financial strains, they’re concerned about their health, concerned about their families wellbeing," AG Kaul said.

"The increase now is the combination of medications which is leading to these overdose trends," Laura Reid said.

One effort to help fight the epidemic is drug take-back day. 

Kaul says Wisconsin leads the nation in the total volume of prescription medications collected last month. And local law enforcement is making it a focus too.

"We decided to refocus our training efforts and really specifically target opioid and synthetic opioid enforcement," Christopher Jushka said.

Officials are reminding Wisconsinites, while many places are closed, there's always help available. 

if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, there is help. 

You can call 2-1-1 for the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline. Or CLICK HERE for more information.