Updated on May 20, 2024
3 min read

Updated Drug and Alcohol Statistics for Wisconsin

Wisconsin is facing a significant drug and alcohol abuse crisis, with the state consistently ranking among the highest in the nation for excessive drinking, binge drinking, and opioid-related overdose deaths. This article presents an overview of the current state of drug and alcohol use in Wisconsin, highlighting alarming statistics on substance use disorders, alcohol-related issues, the impact of opioids, and youth substance use rates.

  • 25.2% of Wisconsin residents drink excessively, making it the nation's "drunkest" state based on self-reporting.1
  • In 2021, there were 1,427 opioid-related deaths in Wisconsin, a 16% increase over 2020 and a 70% increase over the number of deaths in 2018.2
  • Fentanyl is killing over 1,000 people in Wisconsin each year, with 1,358 opioid overdose or poisoning deaths reported in 2022.3

Substance Use and Disorders

Wisconsin faces challenges with substance use and disorders, with rates close to or above the national average.

  • The annual average prevalence of past-month illicit drug use among individuals aged 12 or older was 15.5% (2017-2019).4
  • The annual average prevalence of past-year substance use disorder among individuals aged 12 or older was 21.1% (2017-2019).4
  • The annual average prevalence of past-year opioid use disorder among individuals aged 12 or older was 1.1% (2017-2019).4
wisconsin chart 1

Alcohol Use and Related Issues

Alcohol use, particularly excessive drinking and binge drinking, is a major concern in Wisconsin.

  • 25.2% of Wisconsin residents drink excessively, making it the nation's "drunkest" state based on self-reporting.1
  • 24/7 Wall St. ranked Wisconsin as having 41 of the 50 most heavily drinking counties in 2021.1
  • Excessive drinking is responsible for an average of 261 deaths per day nationally, with significant impacts in Wisconsin.5
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Opioid Crisis and Overdose Deaths

The opioid crisis has had a devastating impact on Wisconsin, with a sharp increase in opioid-related overdose deaths in recent years.

  • In 2021, there were 1,427 opioid-related deaths in Wisconsin, a 16% increase over 2020 and a 70% increase over the number of deaths in 2018.2
  • Fentanyl is killing over 1,000 people in Wisconsin each year, with 1,358 opioid overdose or poisoning deaths reported in 2022.3

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Youth Substance Use

Youth substance use is a significant concern in Wisconsin, with data from various surveys providing insights into the issue.

  • Estimates from two national health surveys, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, provide data on youth alcohol use in Wisconsin.6
  • The most recently available data among Wisconsin youth ages 12-17 show past-year marijuana use at 12.8%, cocaine use at 0.4%, heroin use at 0.3%, and pain reliever misuse at 2.8%.7

Additional Statistics

Other substance use trends and challenges in Wisconsin include:

  • Wisconsin drug overdose deaths increased from 10.9 (2010) to 29.4 (2021) per 100,000 population.7
  • Wisconsin ranks 8th in the nation for total alcohol consumption per capita.1
  • Wisconsin had 31.6 overdose deaths per 100,000 in 2021, up from 12.1 per 100,000 in 2011.8

The statistics presented in this article underscore the severity of the drug and alcohol abuse crisis in Wisconsin. From the state's alarming rates of excessive drinking and binge drinking to the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and the concerns surrounding youth substance use, it is evident that urgent action is needed to address these issues. By investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery services, and promoting collaboration among community stakeholders, Wisconsin can work towards supporting those struggling with addiction and creating a healthier future for all its residents.

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Updated on May 20, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on May 20, 2024
  1. "Do Wisconsin residents report excessively drinking more alcohol than those in other states?" Wisconsin Watch, 2023.
  2. "Wisconsin opioid deaths hit another record high in 2021." Wisconsin Public Radio, 2022.
  3. "'They Die So Quickly': Fentanyl Is Killing Over 1,000 People In Wisconsin Each Year." PBS Wisconsin, 2023.
  4. "Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Statistics." Wisconsin Department of Health Services, n.d.
  5. "The Burden of Binge Drinking in Wisconsin." University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, n.d.
  6. "Youth Alcohol Use in Wisconsin." Wisconsin Department of Health Services, n.d.
  7. "Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drugs, 2021." Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 2021.
  8. "Mental Health and Substance Use State Fact Sheets: Wisconsin." Kaiser Family Foundation, n.d.

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