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Wisconsin tallied over 1,700 drug overdose deaths last year, a 14% increase

Fentanyl Opioids CNN
Posted at 7:37 AM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 08:37:01-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Nationwide, overdose deaths climbed last year.

And in Green Bay, Michelle Pierquet-Hohner says the issue has become more prevalent.

"We're absolutely seeing an increase in use, an increase in overdose, an increase in need for help," she said.

The Jackie Nitschke Center Chief Operating Officer says that need has only become greater over the course of the pandemic.

"Our beds have increased," Pierquet-Hohner said. "We have a waitlist."

According to data released by the CDC on Wednesday, the United States surpassed over 100,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021. It's the highest annual total in the nation's history.

"Face-to-face and counseling stopped happening for a lot of people," Pierquet-Hohner "That was really their lifeline."

In Wisconsin, the report shows a 14% increase in overdose deaths last year. The estimate is that more than 1,700 people died.

"Our calls have increased," Pierquet-Hohner said. "We've had family and friends calling to refer their friends or find out how to get help."

The CDC says fentanyl was the leading cause of the deaths, which the Winnebago County Health Department saw first-hand. NBC 26 spoke with one of its health strategists before this national overdose data was released.

"The spike we saw from mid-November to December, there was a suspected 15 overdose deaths and fentanyl played a huge role," Winnebago County Community Health Strategist Danielle Florence said.

At the Jackie Nitschke Center, Pierquet-Hohner says drug addiction treatment can be lifesaving.

"It's hard work, but they do it," she said. "And they do a wonderful job. And we continue to hear over and over how appreciative they are."