DHS Observes International Overdose Awareness Day by Awarding Grants to Make More Life-Saving Tools Available
Today, on International Overdose Awareness Day, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is expanding its commitment to ending drug overdoses and related harms. Grants have been awarded to 15 county, municipal, nonprofit, and tribal nation agencies to make life-saving resources more available in communities with a high need through vending machines in public places stocked with free fentanyl test strips and NARCAN®, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.
“By funding these vending machines, we are fulfilling our commitment to reducing the harms of drug use, promoting wellness, and supporting recovery for our most vulnerable communities,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “This is about making fentanyl test strips and NARCAN® accessible to the people who need it the most, where they’re already at, on their schedule and their timeline, with no questions asked.
All Wisconsin county and municipal government agencies, nonprofits, and tribal nations were invited to apply for a portion of the nearly $1 million in funding designated for this program. The grant recipients are:
- Addiction Resource Council for supplies to stock existing indoor vending machines in Waukesha County.
- Bayfield County Health Department to buy, place, and stock two outdoor vending machines—one in Bayfield and one in Iron River.
- Forest County Potawatomi to buy, place, and stock two outdoor vending machines—one in Crandon and one in Wabeno.
- Green County Human Services Department to buy, place, and stock an outdoor vending machine in Monroe.
- Janesville Community Center to buy, place, and stock an indoor vending machine in Janesville.
- HealthNet of Rock County to buy, place, and stock an indoor vending machine in Janesville.
- Hope Council on Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse to buy, place, and stock an outdoor vending machine in Kenosha.
- Madison Street Medicine to buy, place, and stock two outdoor vending machines in Madison.
- Milwaukee Community Resources & Empowerment Services to buy, place, and stock an outdoor vending machine in Milwaukee.
- Milwaukee LGBT Community Center to buy, place, and stock an indoor vending machine in Milwaukee.
- Milwaukee Turners to buy, place, and stock an indoor vending machine in Milwaukee.
- Monroe County Health Department to buy, place, and stock an indoor vending machine in Sparta and an outdoor vending machine in Tomah.
- Taylor County Health Department to buy, place, and stock two indoor vending machines in Medford.
- Tellurian Behavioral Health to buy, place, and stock an outdoor vending machine in Madison.
- Village of Brown Deer to buy, place, and stock an indoor vending machine in Brown Deer.
The funded agencies have until the end of September to implement their work plan. The grants are funded by a portion of Wisconsin’s share of the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.
This program complements previously announced grants supported by $2 million of Wisconsin’s 2022 share of National Prescription Opiate Litigation settlement funds to 26 agencies for the purchase, installation, and stocking of indoor and outdoor vending machines containing fentanyl test strips and NARCAN®. The agencies include:
- Adams County Health and Human Services/Public Health
- Ashland County Health and Human Services
- City of Milwaukee Police Department
- City of Racine Public Health Department
- Dunn County Health Department
- Eau Claire City-County Health Department
- Embrace Services
- Grand Chute Police Department
- Jefferson County Health Department
- Kenosha County Public Health
- Langlade County Health Department
- Manitowoc Health Department
- Marinette County Public Health
- Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
- Outagamie County Public Health Division
- Portage County Public Health Division
- Racine County Public Health Division
- Rock County Human Services
- Rock County Public Health Department
- Rock County Sheriff’s Office
- Sauk County Public Health
- St. Croix Tribal Health Clinic
- Stockbridge-Munsee Community
- Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department
- Wausau Police Department
- West Allis Health Department
- Winnebago County Health Department
- Wood County Health Department
DHS is hosting meetings with the partners in both programs to talk about successes, challenges, and ways to get supplies for the vending machines after the grants end.
Grant recipients in both programs may use their own funds to stock the vending machines with other supplies, including medication lock bags/boxes, sterile syringes, CPR breathing masks, and items that promote safer sex.
In addition to vending machines, Wisconsinites have access to free fentanyl test strips and NARCAN® by mail and through many community organizations.
The vending machines and other strategies to distribute free fentanyl test strips and NARCAN® are part of the DHS harm reduction plan to minimize the effects of drug use and reduce disease and death. The goal is to engage with people who use drugs and equip them with tools and information to create positive change in their lives. The plan also includes support for:
- Programs in which emergency medical services providers leave packages of fentanyl test strips and NARCAN® with people who have experienced an overdose.
- Programs that help people who inject drugs.
- Programs that provide and safely dispose syringes and other injection equipment.
- Teams of staff to respond to communities experiencing a spike in overdoses.
People who use drugs should never use alone. If a trusted family member or friend is not available, call Never Use Alone at 800-484-3731.
For other help:
- Call 211 for information on community services, including substance use treatment and recovery supports.
- Call 988 for someone to talk to in times of emotional stress.
- Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies.
Observed each year on August 31, International Overdose Awareness Day is a day to remember those lost to a drug overdose, acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind, and act to save lives. View the proclamation from Governor Tony Evers.
For more information about how to build supportive communities where substance use prevention works, treatment is available, and recovery can happen for everyone, visit Real Talks Wisconsin.