Real Talks

In response to rising rates of substance use across Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers, the Department of Health Services (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have unveiled Real Talks Wisconsin, an effort to give residents the information they need to keep themselves, their families, and their communities healthy and safe.

Real Talks Wisconsin promotes frequent conversations to prevent and reduce substance use through supportive relationships. Real talks are based on asking open-ended questions, having empathy, and helping problem solve.

“Wisconsinites are helpers by nature and through Real Talks, folks and families will have the tools and information they need to better help their friends, neighbors, and loved ones who are struggling with substance use,” said Gov. Evers. “This is about the health and well-being of our families and communities and supporting one another through difficult conversations. By talking about challenges with substance use and helping people on their recovery journey, we can build a healthier state for everyone.”

“We can prevent and reduce substance use by being real with each other,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “It’s time to talk about substance use in an open, honest, and caring way. Real talks help create connection. That connection helps create spaces where hope, health, and healing are possible.”

The initial phase of Real Talks Wisconsin is a series of pages on the DHS website with facts about substance use in Wisconsin, conversation tips, and actions people and communities can take to be well. Future phases will include video guides and printed materials about how to have real talks.

Substance use often involves a mix of drugs. That’s why Real Talks Wisconsin isn’t focused on a specific substance. This effort is built around strategies that can be used to prevent or reduce any type of drug use.

“We must take a comprehensive approach to reducing substance use disorder,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Raising awareness is part of that comprehensive approach, and Real Talks Wisconsin provides tools to help get conversations started in your family and in your community.”

Real Talks Wisconsin builds off the success of the DHS Small Talks initiative, which promotes conversations with kids on the dangers of underage drinking, and the DHS and DOJ Dose of Reality initiative, which promotes having conversations on the dangers of opioids.

Real Talks Wisconsin is part of a series of DHS investments to prevent and reduce substance use. State and federal funding is being used to build community prevention programs; support harm reduction efforts like free access to NARCAN®, the opioid overdose reversal drug, and fentanyl test strips; expand access to treatment services; and enhance recovery supports.

People struggling with substance use can contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline to be connected to treatment options. Call 211 or log on to

Visit (USA, October 2022)

Who should have real talks about substance use? All of us. Because prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery can all start with caring #conversations. start with open, caring conversations. When we all know how to talk about substance use, we can all help strengthen and protect the people and community around us. Start here: #RealTalksWI

#Conversation can be powerful. Having frequent, open real talks about substance use can give someone the information they need to make healthy choices and find support. You can make a real difference. Start here: #RealTalksWI

#Conversations about substance use can be filled with labels, misinformation, and hurtful stereotypes. Learn how to reduce #stigma in your conversations and #community at today. #RealTalksWI

From peer support groups to inpatient care, there are many different and effective paths for substance use recovery and support. can help you understand the differences and connect with options that feel right for you or your loved one. #RealTalksWI

We can all take small actions to prevent and reduce substance use, like having real talks with our loved ones and community, and securing and safely disposing of medications. You can even support policies that protect vulnerable populations. It all helps. Start here: #RealTalksWI

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