State DHS Working To Expand Opiate Treatment In Rural Areas

Officials Say Opiate Use Is On The Rise Among Young Adults

Amir G. (CC-BY-NC-ND)

People struggling with opiate addiction in rural northern Wisconsin should have more access to treatment by the year’s end.

Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services has been seeking providers to offer opioid treatment programs in rural parts of the state. Last year, the Legislature approved funding for programs to treat addiction to opiates like prescription painkillers or heroin in underserved areas.

Joyce Allen is with DHS’s Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. She said they’ve been seeking proposals from health care providers to offer programs that focus on individual patients’ needs.

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“It will range from behavioral counseling…to assist them in managing the symptoms of their addiction, but it also includes the availability of various medications that would help them overcome the cravings and help them be successful,” Allen explained.

Allen said opiate addiction is a growing problem with a rise in use among 18 to 25 year olds. She says they estimate around 11 percent of young adults are using opiates like heroin.

“That’s a startling number in our state and we do need to address that so they have the best treatment and that it’s accessible to them even if they’re living in rural areas of the state,” she said.

Allen said programs will be offered in or near Douglas, Oneida and Marinette counties and receive around $680,000 each year. She said the DHS hopes to negotiate contracts with providers by the summer and have programs running by the end of the year.