MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 1,000 law enforcement, health care and drug court officials met at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday for a one-day conference on helping those suffering from prescription painkiller and heroin addiction, as well as mental health issues.

The conference was a chance for panelists to talk about their experiences and give perspectives on addiction and abuse. The speakers included U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

But the first and perhaps most emotional testimony came from Dick Beardsley, a motivational speaker, marathon runner and former addict.

He said two accidents and the pain that followed to his legs and back fueled his dependency to prescription drugs.

In 1997, he said he forged prescriptions in order to get more than 3,000 pills. After getting caught, receiving probation and in the midst of treatment, he said the worst still wasn’t over.

“The withdrawals that I was going through with these opiates, the pain…was so brutal that I honestly swear to you that if I would’ve had access to a saw…I believe I may have chosen to saw my own arms and legs off,” he said. “That would’ve had to feel better.”

Beardsley says he finally took responsibility for his actions and kicked the habit.

When the conference concludes, participants say they will be better prepared to help people in their communities deal with addiction.

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