Drug and Alcohol Detox Guide For Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Centered around the winding Chippewa River and the picturesque Dells Pond, Eau Claire is one of the most popular cities in western Wisconsin. With beautiful parks and plenty of shopping and activities for children, Eau Claire has developed a reputation as a great place to raise a family. To make it even more appealing to residents and newcomers alike, Eau Claire tends to offer affordable housing and a cost of living that is lower than most mid-sized cities in Wisconsin.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn have made life difficult for many residents of Eau Claire. Currently, the poverty rate rests at about 15.5%, which is well above the national average of 12.8%.  While poverty is not always an indication of substance abuse, economic anxiety has exacerbated existing cases of substance abuse and encouraged more and more residents to turn to drugs and alcohol as an escape.
This has led to an increase in both drug and alcohol abuse in the city of Eau Claire and the rest of Eau Claire County. But this doesn’t mean that the situation is hopeless. Both private and public institutions are working tirelessly to reverse the growing trend of addiction in Eau Claire. And with clinics like Midwest Detox nearby, you can begin your recovery journey with the assistance of trained professionals. This way, you have a much better chance of getting sober and staying sober for good.
But if you’re unsure about starting your recovery journey, we understand. It is a difficult road, but it is important that you take the steps needed to cleanse your body of addictive substances and work toward life-long sobriety. In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about the current substance abuse crisis in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and the resources available to help residents fight addiction.
The Ongoing Substance Abuse Crisis in Eau Claire
Eau Claire is home to about 69,000 full-time residents, making it one of the largest cities in western Wisconsin. It is the county seat of Eau Claire County, though a very small portion of the city actually resides in Chippewa County. The county population is around 106,000 (as of the 2020 census), which means that the city of Eau Claire accounts for more than half of the entire county. Both the city and county populations have been on the rise in recent years, thanks in part to a lower cost of living than many other cities throughout the state.
Since most of the city’s substance abuse data is collected at the county level, it’s important to note the difference in population sizes. Eau Claire County includes the cities of Eau Claire, Augusta, and Altoona, as well as various small towns and villages. Nonetheless, the vast majority of substance abuse cases recorded in the county come from the city of Eau Claire itself.
While instances of substance abuse have varied from year to year in Eau Claire County, the number of deaths and hospitalizations have been trending upward. The number of alcohol-related emergency room visits increased by 21.3% between 2014 and 2021. Over the same period, alcohol-related inpatient hospitalizations remained somewhat consistent, peaking during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, while alcohol-attributable deaths increased by 74%.  You can see a full breakdown of these statistics in the table below:
|Alcohol Statistics in Eau Claire County|
|Year||Emergency Room||Inpatient Hospitalization||Death|
While it would be easy to write off the rising emergency room visits as a reflection of the growing population, it’s harder to turn a blind eye to the astounding increase in alcohol-attributable deaths. Since the data is only available up to 2021, it’s unclear whether these figures have improved or worsened in the years since. However, based on the available data and trends over the past decade, it would appear that alcohol abuse is still on the rise. Moreover, when compared with the relatively slow increase in hospitalizations, the fast rise in deaths may point to an inability (or unwillingness) to seek out treatment at detox facilities or rehab clinics in the area. 
The statistics above only take alcohol into account, but there are many other addictive substances leading to death throughout Eau Claire County — with opioids being the worst offender. Between 2014 and 2021, opioid emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalizations grew by 310% and 133%, respectively. And while there were 0 opioid deaths recorded in 2014, the figure grew by 83.3% between 2015 and 2021. You can see the annual figures for opioid abuse in Eau Claire County in the table below:
|Opioid Statistics in Eau Claire County|
|Year||Emergency Room||Inpatient Hospitalization||Death|
While both hospitalizations and deaths have decreased since the height of the pandemic in 2020, they’ve still risen substantially over the past decade. Once again, it’s unclear how these figures have changed in 2022 and 2023, but the data suggests that the reported cases of opioid abuse (and opioid deaths) have only continued to rise.  
Thus far, we have only focused our attention on alcohol and opioids, as these are the two most commonly abused substances in the city of Eau Claire. However, it’s important to consider how less common substances contribute to the ongoing crisis. For example, meth abuse causes several deaths each year in Eau Claire. While cocaine abuse is prevalent in major cities throughout the state, it is so uncommon in Eau Claire that there is virtually no data related to cocaine hospitalizations or deaths. However, this doesn’t mean that cocaine and stimulants do not contribute to deaths in the region, particularly when combined with other drugs. 
And though the city of Eau Claire does account for the majority of the county’s substance abuse cases, it would be unfair to assume that all of the county’s data comes directly from the city. In fact, it is estimated that roughly 75% of the county’s drug deaths and hospitalizations originate in the city of Eau Claire. So, even though the figures above are not all pertaining to the city of Eau Claire, the majority of these cases do refer to hospitalizations and deaths within the city limits.
How Eau Claire Compares to the Rest of Wisconsin
Even though there are several cities in the state of Wisconsin with even more troubling data related to addiction, Eau Claire has been hit particularly hard by the substance abuse epidemic. Whether you’re looking at alcohol or opioid abuse, this fact is very frightening. Considering that Wisconsin is among the worst states in the nation for alcoholism, with 1 in 4 adults engaging in binge drinking on a regular basis, Eau Claire is positioned as one of the worst cities in the country when it comes to alcohol abuse. 
The county of Eau Claire is consistently ranked among the worst counties in the state for alcohol abuse. In 2021, it was the 12th worst county in Wisconsin for inpatient hospitalizations attributed to alcohol. However, the rest of Wisconsin has fared worse than Eau Claire with opioid abuse cases. The same year, Wisconsin recorded an average of 53.7 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to just 45.1 in Eau Claire County. Similarly, Wisconsin recorded an average of 24.6 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to just 10.6 in Eau Claire County.
All of these statistics can get confusing, as it’s not always clear whether Eau Claire is worse off or better off than any other city in Wisconsin or the rest of the country. The truth is that substance abuse is prominent throughout Wisconsin and the United States, but understanding exactly how it affects your local community is still extremely important. So, here are some of the most recent findings related to overdoses and deaths in Eau Claire, Wisconsin:
- Annual Overdoses: 63
- Alcohol-Related Deaths: 34
- Opioid-Related Deaths: 9
- Non-Opioid Drug-Related Deaths: 2
Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Efforts in Eau Claire
Many cities in Wisconsin offer few (if any) programs to prevent or help treat substance abuse. In this regard, Eau Claire is well ahead of the curve, offering various initiatives under the umbrella of the Alliance for Substance Misuse Prevention. The city of Eau Claire provides online resources to help educate residents on the early signs of drug abuse, as well as ways to seek out treatment. Among the many programs offered at the city level, Eau Claire works to distribute free Narcan kits and make prescription drug drop-off boxes accessible to everyone.
Like many cities in Wisconsin, Eau Claire also depends on programs managed at the county and state levels. For instance, Eau Claire County has its own outpatient clinic for behavioral health, which offers some services for local residents in need of drug or alcohol rehabilitation. However, it is typically used as a supplement to more formal detox and rehab treatments.
And though only a small portion of Eau Claire resides in Chippewa County, many Eau Claire residents still have access to Chippewa County resources. The Chippewa County Recovery & Wellness Consortium (RWC) previously offered traditional services to treat mental illness and substance abuse. In more recent years, the RWC has acted as a facilitator to help locals find the best services to meet their specific needs through third-party providers.
As a complement to these county programs, Wisconsin runs the State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (SCAODA), which manages dozens of programs and initiatives across the state. Many Eau Claire residents seek out help from detox clinics like Midwest Detox, as well as quality inpatient rehab clinics like Wellbrook Recovery.
Drug and Alcohol Detox in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Eau Claire is a truly amazing city and a great place to live, but this does not negate the fact that its addiction problem continues to worsen each and every day. If the current trends do not change, the ongoing substance abuse epidemic will not get any better. As it currently stands, alcohol and opioids are already taking dozens of lives throughout the city each year, and if nothing changes, Eau Claire could see these numbers climb into the triple digits.
Fortunately, help is just a phone call away at Midwest Detox. Though the situation is dire, you do not need to become just another statistic. Our trained professionals are ready to help you overcome your addiction and see you through the first days and weeks of your recovery. With constant monitoring in our modern facility, you will feel comfortable and at ease as you get through the toughest parts of withdrawal and begin your journey to sobriety.
When it comes to addiction, there is no time like the present. So, if you or someone you love is in need of drug or alcohol detox, reach out to Midwest Detox today and begin your journey to recovery.