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The Problem

High levels of Controlled Prescription Drug (CPD) abuse are contributing to increased heroin use.

Increased demand for, and use of, heroin is being driven by both increasing availability of heroin in the U.S. market and by some controlled prescription drug (CPD) abusers using heroin.  After the 2010 reformulation of the commonly abused prescription opioid OxyContin®, which made it difficult to inhale or inject, some people who abused OxyContin® migrated to heroin for access to a potent injectable drug. This phenomenon is contributing to the increase in heroin use in the United States.[1]

Like much of the nation, Wisconsin continues to battle a heroin and opiate epidemic.  Milwaukee County alone has seen a 495% increase in heroin related deaths between 2005 - 2014[2].  The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office reported that a record high 255 people died in Milwaukee County of drug overdoses in 2015, an increase of 53% from 2012[3].


[1](U) U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA Intelligence Report, National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary; April 2015.

[3] Crocker Stephenson ,  “Fentanyl-related deaths spike to 30 in Milwaukee County in 2016”, Journal Sentinel,,  April 7,2016.

The Problem

Heroin use in Milwaukee: A dangerous trend on the rise.

Significant Drug Threats

Heroin will remain the most significant drug threat in Wisconsin due to sustained usage and availability.

Diversion and Misuse of Opioid pharmaceutical drugs

Diversion and misuse of opioid pharmaceutical drugs, such as methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone products, continue to be a severe problem in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin.  

Drug-Related Overdoses

In 2014, heroin overdose deaths in Milwaukee County surpassed the number of homicides and the number of motor vehicle deaths for the first time.