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The abuse of heroin and prescription drugs is a serious problem in the state of Wisconsin and across the nation. Numerous families are having to deal with the loss of a parent or sibling all too soon.

Governor Walker is working diligently to end the crisis in Wisconsin and protect and support those affected by substance use disorder.


The Problem

  • Opioids are powerful natural and manmade drugs that are commonly used as pain relivers but can be very addictive. Examples include: heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl.
  • In 2016, 827 people died from opioid-related deaths, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
  • Since 2000, the number of deaths in the state due to prescription opioid abuse increased 600 percent in 2016.
  • In 2014, more Wisconsin residents died from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle accidents, according to Politifact.

Governor Walker’s Solution

Governor Walker is determined to help combat this health emergency by:

  1. implementing new legislation that will restrict access to these dangerous drugs;
  2. providing first responders and medical professional with lifesaving drugs, such as Naloxone, to treat overdoses in an emergency; and
  3. increasing treatment access for mental health and substance abuse disorders.

To date, his accomplishments include the following:

  • April 2014 – Governor Walker signed the Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) legislative package to address and fight the escalating number of cases of heroin use, addiction and overdose.
    • Wisconsin’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was created with the passage of HOPE legislation as a tool to help combat the ongoing prescription drug abuse epidemic in Wisconsin, including but not limited to opioid abuse.
      1. Pharmacies and other dispensers required to submit data to the PDMP when dispensing controlled substances
      2. Voluntarily used by prescribers, pharmacists, and their delegates to access patient controlled substance prescription histories
  • July 2016 –  Governor Walker joined 45 governors in signing the Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction, which was developed and released by the National Governors Association (NGA), to build on the measures Wisconsin had already taken to combat the opioid crisis.
  • August 2016 – He signed a statewide naloxone standing order to allow pharmacists to dispense the medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose without requiring individual prescriptions.
  • September 2016 –  Governor Walker declared a public health crisis and launched the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse under Executive Order #214.
    • The Task Force was created to make recommendations to combat the opioid crisis in Wisconsin
    • Members include Co-Chairs Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Representative John Nygren with 18 other members
  • January 2017 – He called the Wisconsin State Legislature into special session and issued new Executive Orders to continue the fight against opioid abuse
  • January 2017 – The State of Wisconsin enhanced PDMP to data-driven concerning patient history alerts, such as high opioid dosage levels or overlapping benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions
  • April 2017 – He announced that the state would receive about $8 million in federal grant money to combat the epidemic
  • July 2017 – Governor Walker signed 11 special session bills into law regarding the HOPE agenda.
  • October 2017 – Wisconsin launched the PDMP Public Statistics Dashboard which provides interactive data visualizations about the controlled substance prescriptions dispensed in Wisconsin, the law enforcement reports submitted to the WI ePDMP, and the use of the WI ePDMP by healthcare professionals and others.
  • November 2017 –  He announced that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allocate $7.6 million for a second year to support Wisconsin’s efforts to bring prevention and he signed Assembly Bill 335, adding forms of fentanyl to the synthetic opiates category under Schedule I and reorganizes some substances from the general synthetic opiates category to the specific fentanyl analog category.
  • As of November 2017, Governor Walker has signed a total 28 pieces of bipartisan legislation into law to fight the public health crisis.