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Substance Use/Addiction

The state experienced a 16 percent decrease in fatal overdoses in 2023, which is more than five times the nationwide decline. This was also the state’s first year-over-year reduction in fatalities since 2018.
Earlier this month, Mayor Cherelle Parker announced her administration’s plan to end the Kensington neighborhood’s open-air drug markets by arresting people for low-level offenses that the city hadn’t targeted in years.
Veterans were once half as likely as the general population to land in prison. Now, they're twice as likely. State and local officials are trying to prevent this from happening.
Milwaukee County has one of the nation’s highest death rates from synthetic opioids. It’s deploying millions of opioid settlement dollars to fund programs across a variety of agencies.
Maryland students are already allowed to carry the drug to combat opioid overdoses, which are spiking among young people. A bill would set standards and outline expectations for students.
Legislatures across the nation are confronting several social issues including crime, drug use, immigration and poverty. These issues will continue to hold resonance, of course, in the November elections.
The overdose reversal medication is only required in larger high schools under current law. The bill is a response to rising opioid-related deaths among young people.
Future in Context
Mental health, climate and workforce are at the core of a complex cluster of issues confronting lawmakers this year.
Changes in state laws are making it easier for drug users and responders to test drugs for additives that can prove fatal.
The state’s first-in-the-nation approach to decriminalization has left deaths and overdoses surging. Criminalization needn’t be equated with incarceration. The spectrum of penalties can include fines, community service and treatment.
State lawmakers will be rushing to address crime, AI, housing and a host of other issues – including growing budget gaps – ahead of elections this year.
Alcohol killed 1,547 residents last year, not much fewer than the 1,799 who died from drug overdoses. While the state increased penalties for fentanyl possessions, voters expanded access to alcohol in grocery stores.
Thirty-three states have laws that allow schools or school employees to carry, store or administer naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication. But some states and school districts struggle with the stigma that comes with it.
The city’s Health Department has ended its longtime sleep-off center contract with private security firm Securitas after safety and reliability concerns. But the costly replacement is just temporary, leaving the medical service’s future uncertain.
The city is pumping money into improving its first response to the drug crisis. But finding places where people can receive long-term treatment and recover is still a challenge because many patients refuse help.