CDC: Wisconsin sees 27% increase of fatal drug overdoses in 1 year

Health experts attribute the deaths to opioids
Published: Apr. 18, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Jackie Nitschke Center is a refuge for those battling addictions.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the center says it’s seen a dramatic increase in calls and referrals for its services.

“Habits that maybe they’ve experienced or cultivated over the last year aren’t working as well anymore,” Michelle Pierquet-Hohner, director of community and donor engagement, said. “They’re coping mechanisms aren’t working as well anymore.”

For nearly 50 years, the center has helped ease people off of hard drugs and alcohol transitioning them into healthy lives. Yet, the pandemic is putting that in jeopardy.

“Isolation is really one of the toughest things for people with addiction. It’s easier to drink and to use if people aren’t noticing you. I think it’s easier to hide out,” Pierquet-Hohner said.

Troubling data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the dangers of not getting help.

From September of 2019 to September of 2020, there was nearly a 30 percent increase in drug overdose deaths across the country. In Wisconsin, the rise was 27.9 percent over that same time period.

“People when they take a substance like an opioid, it sends off pleasure responses in the brain that sort of tell people, ‘oh. this feels good,’” Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar said. She’s an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

According to Dr. Salisbury-Afshar, there are many ways to help treat alcohol and drug addictions, including counseling and medical intervention.

“Over time you get to a place where you’re taking a substance just to feel at baseline and without it you feel terrible,” Salisbury-Afshar added. “People are less likely to die, if they do receive a medication either methadone or buprenorphine sometimes people call it suboxone.”

For those struggling with addiction or know a loved one who is, below are links to resources that can be of assistance:

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