MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Regional leaders came together Friday to share insight and discuss strategies for preventing opioid abuse.
The discussions come as President Barack Obama is pushing a new plan to fight the deadly heroin and opioid addiction that is affecting thousands around the country. Right now, the addiction kills almost 100 Americans every day.
The Justice Department’s plan will reportedly call for law enforcement to identify the links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country, and for prosecutors to be willing to share information across state lines.
On Friday, U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek joined together in a roundtable discussion.
Both have supported policies and legislation to prevent drug abuse. They said opioid addiction is a problem that the country needs help fixing.
“We often see someone get hooked on prescription painkillers, and then their supply runs out and of course they turn to heroin. This is what law enforcement has been seeing across our county and across our country. Believe it or not, we see heroin is cheaper to get than prescription painkillers if you buy them out on the street,” Stanek said.
“This is an epidemic. We know it. We know it’s an epidemic in the United States. A lot of people think it only happens in poor communities, or maybe rural communities, but I’ve spoken personally to many suburban families who have been touched or impacted,” Paulsen said.
One initiative that will help prevent prescription medications from falling into the wrong hands is a drug deactivation pouch. It allows people to safely dispose of drugs.
About 30,000 pouches will be donated to local prevention groups and the Hennepin county sheriff foundation.
Friday’s roundtable and the president’s plan comes as opioid deaths, caused by either pain pills or heroin, jumped 372-percent from 2000 to 2014.