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:
- Increasing access to naloxone and Narcan® and teaching people how to use it.
- Promoting safer drug use by providing supplies, including fentanyl test strips, through our Syringe Services Program.
- Issuing Overdose Spike Alerts to warn our community when there is an increased risk of overdoses.
- Supporting mental health and substance use recovery efforts through the Dane County Prevention Alliance and the Recovery Coalition of Dane County.
- Offering free harm reduction supplies and training to agencies and groups. Contact us for more details!
We’re also working to understand how overdoses are happening locally and to help make systemic changes by:
- Coordinating the Dane County Overdose Fatality Review. Our annual report, Drug Overdose Deaths in Dane County, includes data, recommendations, and action steps to prevent future drug overdose deaths.
- Working to eliminate disparities with the African American Opioid Coalition so the Black community isn’t overburdened by overdose deaths.
Shaping national efforts to integrate health equity into overdose prevention and response.