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  • January 13, 2022 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    The WISAM 2022 Annual Conference is scheduled to be held on October 13-14, 2022 at the Pyle Center in Madison, WI. WISAM is looking for experts in their fields to submit proposals for posters or presentations based on the conference theme "Resilience" to educate and inspire our attendees.

    Presentations will be accepted until May 1. We estimate that all applicants will be notified of the status of their applications by June 1. 

    Addiction medicine professionals, physicians, social workers, nurses, counselors, and more from Wisconsin will gather virtually to learn innovative strategies, cutting-edge ideas, new concepts and best-practice approaches to their work. If you can offer this type of expertise, we want you to share your poster presentation. Share your experience and insights with your peers, while increasing your visibility and enhancing your professional growth.

    For more information and to submit your proposals, please visit our website.

  • January 07, 2022 6:46 PM | Anonymous

    DHS | Opioid Prevention

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is hosting a series of virtual listening sessions with stakeholders in January to hear ideas about how the State of Wisconsin could use future opioid settlement funds.

    Currently, four opioid settlements are in process, each with varying and undetermined timelines. While we don’t yet know how much money the State of Wisconsin will receive from these opioid settlements, these listening sessions offer an opportunity for stakeholders to think big about what could be possible with settlement dollars.

    Come with your ideas about what you would like to see happen with settlement dollars. The comments gathered in these sessions will help inform planning once the settlements are finalized.

    We want to hear from all stakeholders, including opioid treatment providers and those with lived experience or who support individuals with opioid use disorders.

    Share your ideas and comments at the listening sessions listed below or by filling out this survey by January 31, 2022.

    Please join us by registering below for one of the 12 public listening sessions in January. (Please note that each session date has a unique link.) Participants can join the Zoom meeting online or call in using a toll-free phone number. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

    If you need a translator or other accommodations, contact at least five business days prior to the session. Interpretation for the listening sessions is available by request in Spanish, Hmong, and American Sign Language.

    Register in advance for all sessions by following the link.

    Partners and stakeholders sessions are scheduled for:

    Public and consumers sessions are scheduled for: Evening sessions scheduled for anyone:
  • December 20, 2021 1:18 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    The Department of Safety and Professional Services will use a recent federal grant to facilitate connections between the state’s program for tracking controlled substances and electronic health records, per a Friday statement. 

    The agency is receiving more than $1.6 million from the Department of Justice for changes to the Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

    The money will go toward expanding adoption of direct workflow integrations and making data more accessible to existing electronic health record systems, with a goal of benefiting providers in rural and underserved parts of Wisconsin. 

    Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dawn Crim said the program has “been an invaluable tool in the state’s multi-faceted effort to address the opioid epidemic.”

    “It has already transformed prescribing culture, and it continues to generate important data about prescribing trends in Wisconsin,” Crim said in a statement. “This additional funding will make it more functional for and more accessible to more providers throughout the state.”

     The department is already pursuing a multi-year project to overhaul the program’s data capabilities, with a goal of finishing that work in 2023. 

  • December 13, 2021 2:32 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Department of Health Services

    For Immediate Release | December 13, 2021
    Contact: Elizabeth Goodsitt/Jennifer Miller 608-266-1683

    La Crosse Lighthouse Peer-Run Respite Opens
     A space for healing mental health and substance use concerns

    Wisconsin’s sixth peer-run respite funded by the Department of Health Services (DHS)—the La Crosse Lighthouse—is now open. It offers a place where people with mental health and substance use challenges can stay in times of increased stress or symptoms and receive support from people who have themselves been mental health and substance use service users.

    “Making sure folks have the mental health and treatment services they need is an essential part of addressing substance use in our state,” said Governor Tony Evers. “Growing the state’s network of peer-run respites is a critically important part of that effort as peer-to-peer connection can help folks address trauma, receive the support they need, and ensure they get on the road to recovery.”

    Established in Wisconsin in 2015, peer-run respites prevent people from experiencing traumatic mental health and substance use crisis situations and costly hospitalizations. During a free stay, guests benefit from one-on-one and group peer support and activities focused on the eight dimensions of wellness guidance from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental. There are no required activities for guests. They are free to come and go during their stay for doctor and therapy appointments, school, work, family, and other responsibilities. In many cases, guests also get connected to community resources designed to support their wellness after their stay.

    View the entire news release.

  • December 09, 2021 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    WMS | Medigram 

    The Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) and the Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine (WISAM) joined forces on December 8 to warn state policymakers about the potential harmful effects of kratom – a tree native to southeast Asia whose leaves can contain compounds causing psychotropic effects. The two organizations provided testimony to the State Assembly Committee on State Affairs, asking legislators not to support Assembly Bill 599 – legislation that would legalize two of the substances found in kratom products and create a regulatory scheme that would allow for kratom sales.

    The testimony included a literature review published in the April 2021 edition of the Wisconsin Medical Journal (WMJ) about ongoing experiences with patients suffering from Kratom Use Disorder (KUD), and a case report from a 2016 WMJ on kratom addiction and withdrawal. The testimony also highlighted various U.S. Food and Drug Administration warnings about the drug and how U.S. Marshals have seized numerous shipments of dietary supplements containing kratom over the past several years due to false claims about the product’s safety and efficacy.

    The bill is now eligible for a committee vote. The Society and WISAM will continue to monitor AB 599 and offer to meet with any policymaker who has additional questions. Contact Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD for more information; he will also discuss the bill as one of the topics during the WisMed Friday Report tomorrow, December 10, at 12:15 p.m. Register here for this members-only event. 

  • November 23, 2021 12:46 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    Deaths from drug overdoses in Wisconsin increased by 21.8 percent over the past year, according to provisional data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

    There were 1,599 predicted overdose deaths in Wisconsin during the 12-month period ending April 2021, compared to 1,313 the prior year.

    The CDC noted the numbers are "underreported due to incomplete data."

    Nationally, drug overdoses increased by over 28 percent over the past year. More than 100,000 people reportedly died over the 12-month period, the highest it has ever been.

     Synthetic opioids caused roughly 64 percent of all drug overdose deaths during that time.

  • November 11, 2021 7:31 PM | Anonymous

    Medigram | Wisconsin Medical Society

    As Wisconsin faces a resurgence in opioid overdose deaths, the State Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety unanimously approved WisMed-supported legislation that can help save Wisconsin lives. The unanimous 11-0 vote for Assembly Bill 619, which removes fentanyl test strips from the definition of “drug paraphernalia” in the criminal code, occurred November 10 in the State Capitol.

    WisMed member and Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine (WISAM) President Ritu Bhatnagar, MD, testified in favor of the bill during the committee’s October 20 public hearing, emphasizing how these testing strips can prevent someone from unwittingly taking a drug laced with fentanyl. The bipartisan bill is authored by State Assembly Reps. Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D-Milwaukee) and State Sens. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

    As a recent story in the Wisconsin Examiner about the legislation cites, Wisconsin Department of Health Services data show that more than 6,200 people in Wisconsin died of a drug overdose from 2014-2019, with nearly 4,800 of those deaths involving opioids. Another 1,900 of those deaths were heroin-related. The article also points out that last year in Milwaukee County alone 544 people died a drug-related death – an unfortunate annual record for the county – and more than 400 of those deaths involved fentanyl.

    Contact Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD for more information.

  • November 11, 2021 1:06 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    Wisconsin will receive $10 million over the next five years to fight the opioid epidemic, thanks to an initiative that’s expanding into the state. 

    The Bloomberg Opioids Overdose Prevention Initiative launched in Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2018. It’s now moving into Wisconsin, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico and North Carolina. 

    “The coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the crisis we are facing in our state and country with the opioid epidemic, as opioid-related deaths last year exceeded 1,000 in a single year in Wisconsin for the first time,” Gov Tony Evers said in a statement. “It’s more critical than ever that we get folks support."

    The initiative aims to scale existing efforts, implement new programs and advocate for federal policies to expand treatment access and harm reduction policies. It’ll support technical assistance, direct services and staff at government agencies.

    The program's expansion is funded by a $120 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Johns Hopkins University, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Vital Strategies are partners. 

  • November 04, 2021 12:06 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    The Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that lawmakers billed as a technical correction so that more social workers can provide substance use disorder treatment without needing additional credentials.

    Licensed clinical social workers are able to provide substance use treatment services within their scope of practice. 

    A 2018 law eliminated a requirement that other master’s level licensed mental health professionals, like marriage and family therapists and professional counselors, obtain an additional credential to provide the services. 

    However, lawmakers “unintentionally omitted” certified advanced practice social workers and certified independent social workers, since their credential is titled “certified” instead of “licensed,” Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said in testimony to the committee last week. 

    “This bill corrects this error and enables these master's level social workers to provide substance use treatment within their scope of practice, thus removing an unnecessary regulatory barrier that impacts access to treatment,” he said in written testimony. 

    The National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Chapter and the Wisconsin Association of Family & Children's Agencies support the bill. 

     Two people registered against the plan. Michael Kemp, a certified substance abuse counselor, said he was “deeply disturbed by this effort to extend the scope of practice to professionals who have mostly received minimal education on the treatment of this unique brain disorder.” 

  • October 26, 2021 12:07 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    Lawmakers are considering legalizing fentanyl testing strips, which can determine whether a substance contains the highly powerful synthetic opioid.  

    Current law considers fentanyl testing strips drug paraphernalia, making it a felony for any person to use or possess with intent to use. 

    Bill author Rep. Jesse James, R-Altoona, said last week the strips are “valuable, life-saving and very inexpensive.” 

    “We have a chance in Wisconsin to take a step forward in ending the increase of overdose deaths happening statewide,” James told the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. “Saving lives should never be a partisan issue or up for debate.” 

    “Let’s prevent the next fentanyl death,” said Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, D-Milwaukee. “Let’s pass this bill.” 

    Kristen Grimes, director of prevention services at Vivent Health, said they distributed more than 54,000 fentanyl test strips last year. They received around 3,700 reports back about their use from clients.

    The reports show that once clients identified a drug with fentanyl, they used safer behaviors to reduce their risk of overdose, she said. That could include taking less of the drug to see how it feels, using it with friends to keep an eye on each other and telling others about what they’re finding in their drugs. 

    “I can tell you from personal experience, our clients do not want to die,” Grimes said. “They’re tired of watching their friends die. And they can utilize fentanyl test strips to save their lives.” 

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