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Milwaukee County highlights successes from initiatives funded by opioid litigation settlements

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley highlighted a recently released report on Milwaukee County’s strategic and data-driven efforts to combat the opioid epidemic through effective use of opioid litigation dollars.

The report details how Milwaukee County has deployed historic opioid settlement funds and reaffirms the county’s commitment to using these resources effectively to save lives. Last year, Milwaukee County successfully recovered $102 million in opioid litigation settlements, the most recovered by any local government in Wisconsin history.

“For years, Wisconsin’s local leaders and organizations have been on the front lines of the opioid crisis. The $102 million in opioid settlement funds has the potential to be transformative, helping to save lives from this epidemic and alleviate the ongoing suffering for residents and their loved ones,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “We appreciate this recognition of our efforts. Looking ahead, Milwaukee County is committed to doing everything we can to combat the opioid crisis, make the best use of these funds, and provide critical resources in the community – because lives depend on it.”

The The year in review the report outlined the county’s five-year strategy that guides spending on opioid litigation solutions with a focus on people-centered initiatives. Guided by settlement guidelines, funds are allocated into four key categories:

  • TREATMENT: Services related to the treatment of opioid use disorder and any substance use disorder or mental health condition through evidence-based or evidence-based programs or strategies.
  • avert: Services related to the primary, secondary or tertiary prevention of opioid use disorder in children, youth or adults.
  • REDUCTION OF DAMAGES: Services that reduce opioid problems and improve quality of life without a primary focus on sobriety or reducing use.
  • OTHER STRATEGIES: Activities related to research, training, evidence-based data collection, opioid crisis surveillance, and analysis of the effectiveness of reduction strategies.

Using an efficient allocation process and data-driven decision-making prioritization, Milwaukee County awarded approximately $16.5 million to 15 projects across four county departments.

Opioid Litigation Funds were distributed to administer projects focused on treatment, prevention, harm reduction, and other strategies. Notable projects include the implementation of 11 drug-reduction machines and the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program behind the walls.

Over the past four years, the county has embarked on a transformative journey toward racial equity and inclusion. The effort has made great strides in removing systemic barriers, amplifying diverse voices, and applying an equity lens to all of our work.

“We have navigated the pandemic and recommitted ourselves to improving the health and safety of our communities by guiding our efforts in mental health initiatives, youth suicide prevention and public safety partnerships to support our most vulnerable residents.” said County Executive Crowley. “And we’ve worked with both political parties to address our fiscal challenges and secure the county’s financial future.”

In April 2024, Milwaukee County received the “Opioid Litigation Excellence Award” for the county’s effective use of opioid litigation dollars from a coalition of organizations across the spectrum of substance use and coordinated by faculty from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The quarterly awards are based on a set of evidence-based guidelines called the Principles for the Use of Opioid Litigation Funds. The award and principles were developed by a coalition of organizations across the substance use spectrum and coordinated by faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Last year, Milwaukee County successfully recovered $102 million in opioid litigation settlements, the most recovered by any local government in Wisconsin history. Milwaukee County receives this recognition for the efficient and equitable deployment of opioid settlement funds.

“For years, Wisconsin’s local leaders and organizations have been on the front lines of the opioid crisis. The $102 million in opioid settlement funds has the potential to be transformative for our community, helping to save lives from this epidemic and alleviate the ongoing suffering for residents and their loved ones,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “We appreciate this recognition of our efforts. Looking ahead, Milwaukee County is committed to doing everything we can to combat the opioid crisis, make the best use of these funds, and provide critical resources in the community – because lives depend on it.”

“This report details our impact efforts to date in deploying opioid settlement funds throughout the community. “Looking forward, Milwaukee County is committed to doing everything we can to combat the opioid crisis, make the best use of these funds, and provide critical resources in the community – because lives depend on it,” added the director. Crowley County Executive.

May 19 was the fifth anniversary of Milwaukee County declaring racism a public health crisis, setting a national precedent and leading the charge for municipalities across the country. Since then, the county has overcome historic challenges, implemented life-changing policies, and expanded community services, all with the vision of achieving racial equity downtown.