In the face of rising heroin and opioid addiction that state officials are calling a public health crisis, Citizen Action of Wisconsin is launching an initiative to increase access to effective screening and intervention services for youth. The Citizen Action project is a three-year effort designed to help youth avoid the destructive consequences of drug and alcohol misuse and addiction through early intervention.
This initiative, focused on youth ages 15 to 22, will combine a cost-effective public health approach called Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) with the power of consumer-led advocacy. It will build on SBIRT initiatives already underway in Wisconsin schools and primary care clinics. The Wisconsin effort is part of a national project run by Community Catalyst, a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization, and supported by a $2.5 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which will be paired with $1.7 million from other sources.
Wisconsin was one of five states selected for the project to improve insurance coverage for early screening and intervention services, increase the number and types of locations where youth can access those services, and boost the number and type of professionals who can conduct screening and brief intervention. Community Catalyst will gather and disseminate the lessons learned from Wisconsin and other states – Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio — to help improve screening and intervention nationwide.
“Risky substance use puts Wisconsin’s youth at risk for addiction later in life,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “We are seeing the tragic results of this in the reports about opioid overdoses and suicides. We look forward to working with partners on the ground to make sure early screening and prevention programs are available to all of Wisconsin’s at risk teens, so that we can improve the lives of those youths and their families while reducing the huge societal and health care costs associated with addiction.”
Citizen Action of Wisconsin will create a public education campaign that brings together the power of many different types of groups that care about this issue, which has been an effective approach to creating change in the health reform arena. Stakeholders will include youth organizations, parents groups, teachers, organizations working to address addiction, faith groups and health care providers.
In addition to Citizen Action of Wisconsin, participating organizations include Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Community Advocates; IMPACT Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, Inc; Elevate Inc; Flow One Lean Consulting; and Wisconsin Initiative to Promote Healthy Lifestyles.