Reducing Drug Harm


The drug overdose epidemic nationally and locally continues to be a public health crisis. The number of people who died of a drug overdose in Dane County from 2018-20 was 43% higher than the number of people who died from 2014-16 (254 to 365). Opioid-involved deaths continue to drive drug overdose death trends.

Drug Use is a Systemic Problem, Not an Individual One

Substance use disorder is a chronic medical condition that impacts the brain, yet the belief that people can stop using drugs at anytime substantially impacts how systems collectively respond to substance use disorder and people who use drugs.

Long-standing systemic racism and bias has led to communities having unequal access to resources. From 2018-2020 the drug overdose death rate among Black people was more than 3 times the rate among White people.

We Have the Tools to Help Save Lives

Dane County has many evidence-based tools to prevent death and injury due to drug use. Continuing to evolve and expand harm reduction services are critical to supporting the health and well-being of people who use drugs.

Some of the ways we work to prevent death and injury due to drug use include:

We’re also working to understand how overdoses are happening locally and to help make systemic changes by:

Shaping national efforts to integrate health equity into overdose prevention and response.

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