Substance use is consistently identified as a top health issue in Wisconsin as a whole and Walworth County specifically. Currently, areas of specific local concern include, but are not limited to, opiate use, the drinking culture, and youth e-cigarette use. Walworth County supports efforts that work on preventing use, reducing harm from use, and increasing access to treatment Learn more about the areas we focus on by clicking on the tabs below:
Living tobacco and nicotine free reduces a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, various cancers, respiratory diseases, and experiencing complications during pregnancy. The benefits of tobacco-free living are particularly high for people who live with diabetes or other common chronic diseases.
E-cigarettes, or “vapes” produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products—flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air.
Vapes,” are one of the latest evolutions in tobacco products. They’re also one of the biggest threats to our kids’ health. While traditional cigarette smoking rates have dropped, use of electronic smoking devices has skyrocketed among young people—exposing them to the dangers of nicotine, addiction, and a variety of new health risks.
From the 2019-2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey we learned more about the prevalence of vaping in youth. In Walworth County, 6 percent of middle schoolers are current users. Those numbers jump by the time kids reach high school. Today, 32 percent of high schoolers have tried vaping, and 15 percent consider themselves current users.
Sweet and trendy flavors like mango, cotton candy, and birthday cake are a big part of why vapes are so popular. In a recent study, 80 percent of young vape users said they used vapes “because they come in flavors I like,” and 95 percent of Wisconsin middle schoolers say they wouldn't use an unflavored product.
Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals such as tar and nicotine that can damage the lungs and lead to serious health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, smoking cigarettes can harm not only the smoker, but also those around them who inhale secondhand smoke.
Menthol cigarettes are more appealing and easier to smoke. In addition, menthol enhances the addictive effects of nicotine in the brain. Menthol in cigarettes makes it more likely that youth and young adults will try smoking and that those who start smoking will continue to smoke on a regular basis.
Vaping Prevention Education Presentation
Free educational presentation that focuses on vaping data, components of a vape device, health consequences, effects on the young brain and quitting resources. This presentation can be adapted for all audiences, from elementary age to adults. To request a presentation, please fill out our Community Health Education Form.
Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, every county in Wisconsin has high rates of excessive alcohol use. Defined as binge, heavy drinking, underage drinking and drinking while pregnant, the impact of excessive alcohol use ripples throughout society.
Binge Drinking/Heavy Drinking
The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women.
According to the CDC, for men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming eight (8) drinks or more per week.
Health risks associated with binge drinking and chronic heavy drinking include liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer, ulcers and gastrointestinal problems, immune system dysfunction, brain damage, malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, heart disease, accidents, and injuries.
Learn more about alcohol use and your health at https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
Underage drinking is not a rite of passage, nor is it simply a matter of curiosity or bad behavior. It is a challenge that the entire community faces, and it affects families in Wisconsin of all backgrounds. Children are influenced to try alcohol for various reasons, including peer pressure and unregulated marketing tactics. Sometimes, kids may turn to it as a way to cope with challenging situations like trauma or difficulties at home, school, or in their community. It's important to remember that families are not responsible for underage drinking. However, they can make a difference by taking necessary measures to prevent it.
Small Talks is a statewide campaign encouraging adults – especially parents and caregivers – to have short, casual conversations about the dangers of underage drinking with the children in their lives starting at age eight. Visit SmallTalksWI.org for talk tips, facts, and more.
Hidden in Plain Sight Presentation
Hidden in Plain Sight is a free demonstration of a teenager’s bedroom with approximately 30 “red flags” that are signs of substance use. The goal of this program is to provide education and awareness to parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers and anyone who works with teens. By the end of this program participants will know what seemingly innocent items can actually be an indicator of substance use. Participants will also learn about drug slang, current trends, and signs and symptoms to be aware of. Hidden in Plain Sight is intended for adults only to avoid providing adolescents with a do-it-yourself plan to deceive parents and other adults. Many of those using drugs report experimenting with use beginning before the age of 13. To request a presentation, please fill out our Community Health Education Form.
What are opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that alleviate pain and may produce a pleasurable effect on the brain and body. Opioids are used in many ways. A health care professional may prescribe them as part of a treatment plan following an injury or surgery. Opioids also may be used in nonmedical ways. Some people may use opioids to cope with painful emotions, trauma, or other life experiences.
- Prescription pain relievers: Prescription opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone that relieve pain by changing the way the brain and body feel pain. They don't cure the pain, but they may help a person manage it.
- Fentanyl: Fentanyl is a very strong opioid.
- Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain. It is available as a lozenge, pill, nasal/sublingual spray, transdermal patch, or as an injection.
- Illegally manufactured fentanyl/non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is sold for its ability to produce good feelings. It is often mixed into illegal drugs and pills made to look like prescription medications.
Why are opioids risky?
All types of opioids are addictive. The brain and body develop a tolerance to opioids very quickly, meaning more amounts are needed to feel the same effect. This may rapidly become dependence, meaning that not taking opioids may cause severe pain and discomfort because opioids are no longer in the brain and body. This leads some people to use opioids more and more, a cycle that can lead to opioid use disorder.
What are the common signs of opioid use disorder?
- Unexplained changes in behavior, such as attitude, appetite, mood swings, sleep patterns, and irritability.
- Sudden changes in activities, such as friends or social activities or sudden shifts in jobs or hobbies.
Opioid use disorder is a medical condition that can affect anyone who uses opioids. Wherever you or someone you care about may be in a struggle with opioids, there are people ready to help. Explore treatment options for opioid use disorder.
Where can I find local resources?
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use and is interested in seeking treatment or counseling visit https://walcodac.com/resources for more information.
Where can I go for help to quit vaping and/or smoking?
The following organizations have programs designed to help smokers and vapers recognize and cope with problems that come up during quitting and to provide support and encouragement.
- Get Free Help from the Quit Line “For free assistance and a customized quit plan, call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW or text "READY" to 200-400 (messaging and data rates may apply). The Quit Line provides free one-on-one phone counseling and information, local cessation program referrals, and starter packs of quit smoking medications like nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges. Learn more about how the Quit Line can help you become tobacco free.”
- Pregnant and Smoking? First Breath can Help. “Wisconsin’s First Breath program provides free coaching to help expectant mothers deal with stress and quit tobacco use. Learn more about how First Breath can help you quit.”
- This is Quitting “This is Quitting is a free and anonymous text messaging program from Truth Initiative designed to help young people quit vaping. The first-of-its-kind quit program incorporates messages from other young people like them who have attempted to, or successfully quit, e-cigarettes. To enroll in This is Quitting, teens and young adults text DITCHVAPE to 88709.”
- Do the Vape Talk “Think your kid wouldn’t vape? Statistics say they might. It’s time to get your head out of the cloud and find out what you need to know about why kids vape and the dangers, signs and symptoms.”
Where can I go for help with alcohol use?
If you think your child is already drinking or struggling with substance use, don’t blame them or yourself. Focus on getting your family help instead. The Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline can help. It’s free and available 24 hours a day.
- Call: 211 or 833-944-4673
- Text: Your ZIP code to 898211
- Online search: addictionhelpwi.org
- Online chat:Enter the chat room
Where can I dispose of unused/unwanted medications?
Safe Medication Disposal/ Drug Take Back - Almost every home has one — that cabinet or drawer filled with prescriptions and other medications. And if yours is like most, it probably contains a few things you didn’t know you had, or no longer need. When unused and expired medications start to pile up, it’s easy for them to fall into the wrong hands. Far too often, medications that get overlooked cause unintended harm or become a gateway to misuse. Simply choose a safe disposal option that’s best for you. Drug Take Back Days are held twice a year in communities throughout Wisconsin; once in April and again in October. If you can’t make it, many permanent drug drop boxes are available year-round across the state in convenient locations like pharmacies and police stations.
If you’d like to learn more about safe medication disposal and all available options, visit doseofrealitywi.gov.