Waukesha County substance abuse prevention; new efforts

Fentanyl overdose deaths continue to rise in the U.S. – including in Wisconsin. Waukesha County officials on Monday, Aug. 1 will announce new efforts to prevent substance abuse in the community.

In May, Waukesha County received a $200,000 grant to help expand resources and education regarding substance abuse prevention. Specifically to educate students about the dangers of fentanyl. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid – approved for treating severe pain.

According to the CDC, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Everything from pills to pot can be laced with fentanyl and ingesting it once can be deadly. 

Waukesha County's fentanyl overdose deaths:

  • In 2021: 62 people died
  • In 2020: 95 people died

Part of the county's resources is narcan training. County officials say about 4,800 people have taken the training, including about a thousand law enforcement officers. 

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According to a news release, the Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has allocated additional grant funds to schools and the community to enhance primary substance abuse prevention. The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department will implement a pilot program that deploys mental health professionals to crisis calls in real-time. Also, peer support will increase at the community level.

Prevention programs in schools

Waukesha County will offer approximately $200,000 in new Substance Abuse Block Grant (SABG) funds to expand prevention efforts in schools and the community. The grants can fund six primary prevention strategies: information dissemination, education, alternative activities, problem identification and referral, community-based process, and environmental. Schools and licensed prevention agencies each have the opportunity to apply.

Waukesha County has partnered with Addiction Resource Council, Inc. to offer free technical assistance to develop, implement and document programming to schools applying for grants. Awardees may collaborate with other licensed Substance Use Prevention Agencies for activities not provided by schools.

Mental Health Professional program

The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, in partnership with HHS, will implement the embedded Mental Health Professional program, which began as a pilot program in November 2021. The sheriff’s department has experienced improved response to mental health and crisis calls since the pilot program began. It will be fully implemented at the end of June.

Overdose prevention

Waukesha County uses a collective impact approach through multiple programs to fight the opioid crisis, including participation in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the Wisconsin Injection Drug Use Prevention Project, and its Drug Treatment Court. 

  • In 2022, Waukesha County will utilize grants to launch medicated-assisted therapy awareness campaigns to highlight treatment options for individuals in recovery.
  • HHS has added an additional full-time peer support specialist to its Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Services Clinic Staff.
  • The Waukesha County Heroin Task Force’s prevention action team is conducting community presentations to highlight the risks associated with prescription misuse.
  • HHS maintains a strong relationship with the AODA Volunteers of Waukesha County, who provide valuable outreach, education and support services to individuals in recovery, or who are considering abstinence from drugs or alcohol.
  • The Women’s Health and Recovery Project (WHARP), coordinated by Waukesha County HHS, assists women with substance use disorders, and their children, who have complex needs such as housing, employment, mental health and physical health issues, transportation, and childcare.
  • Since 2017, more than 291 documented lives have been saved, at least 289 of those were overdoses reversed by Naloxone, as a result of the Waukesha County HHS Naloxone Project.