Dane County announces Harm Reduction and Prevention Act to combat opioid, fentanyl epidemics

Program would distribute funding to community organizations to prevent overdoses, increase awareness

· Sep 15, 2022 Tweet

Marissa Haegele/The Badger Herald

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, along with community advocates, announced the Harm Reduction and Prevention Act on Sept. 8. As a part of Parisi’s 2023 budget, this roughly $740,000 initiative will address opiate and fentanyl related emergencies. 

Opioid and fentanyl related deaths have risen steadily in Dane County since 2016, with opioid deaths increasing by over 30% and fentanyl deaths reaching almost 70%, according to the press release.

“More Dane County residents than ever before are dying of drug poisoning,” Parisi said in the press release. “These investments in my 2023 budget build upon past successes and explore new opportunities to make a potentially lifesaving difference for the individuals and families who call Dane County home.”

Parisi’s budget proposal would bring in additional funding on top of the existing $1.6 million Dane County uses for opiate prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, according to the press release. 

The funding from the Harm Reduction and Prevention Act will go toward several community organizations, such as Safe Communities, local school districts, hospitals and the OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center, according to the press release.

New education courses in partnership with Safe Communities will teach elementary through high school students how to identify risks, build resiliency and live safely, according to the press release.

By partnering with community organizations, Dane County intends to widely distribute Narcan and fentanyl test strips, as well as support a Narcan “leave behind” program that would allow emergency medical services to leave rescue kits at the scene of overdoses, according to the press release.

Additionally, the Harm Reduction and Prevention Act works to reduce the time between an overdose and contacting help, and a total of $115,000 will go toward creating a prevention coordinator position at the OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center to provide resources to populations disproportionately affected by overdoses, according to the press release.

A report from Public Health Madison and Dane County found that Black individuals face an overdose death rate three times higher than white individuals, according to the press release. To combat this inequality, The African American Opioid Coalition, an organization that addresses the opioid epidemic in the African American community, will receive $100,000 from the Harm Reduction and Prevention Act for med lock boxes, Narcan, and/or fentanyl test strips.

Safe Community program coordinator Charlie Daniel said that until recently, addiction was seen as a white person disease and therefore white people were more likely to search out treatment.

“Addiction is an illness that needs to be treated,” Daniel said. “When you take the stigma out of the disease, only then can one efficiently treat those in need.”

Parisi’s full 2023 budget will be released Oct. 3, 2022.

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This article was published Sep 15, 2022 at 11:04 am and last updated Sep 15, 2022 at 11:14 pm

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