Minnesota’s Opioid Epidemic
Minnesota is struggling with the same opioid epidemic that’s crippling the rest of the nation. Though the reasons for dependency and addiction are numerous and as unique as the user, many people in the Twin Cities are fighting an addiction that began with a legal prescription for pain.
Who Is Struggling with Addiction in the Twin Cities?
According to state data reported in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, in 2016 doctors issued more than 3.5 million prescriptions for opioids in Minnesota. To put that number in perspective, that is enough bottles of narcotics for approximately 63 percent of Minnesotans to have one.
In 2016, 637 Minnesotans died of a drug overdose. Prescription opioids were responsible for 186 of those deaths. Many of the people who died from overdoses of other drugs may have started on their path to drug addiction with opioid prescriptions for things like dental surgeries or back injuries.
The counties with the most prescriptions written were Aitkin, Kanabec, and Mille Lacs. In those three counties alone, there were enough prescriptions for every single resident to have one bottle of opioids.
Is Jail the Answer to Solving the Opioid Crisis?
Millions of Americans are addicted to prescription opioids. It would be impossible to jail everyone addicted to prescription opioids and still have room in the jails and prisons for other criminal offenders.
Addiction is an illness. Putting someone in jail doesn’t cure the illness of addiction any more than putting someone in jail for having cancer would cure the cancer. Doctors and dentists prescribing opioids need better education about how they work, alternative therapies, and how to monitor their patients who do need them. This education must come from somewhere other than the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the product.
Rather than funding programs designed to punish people who have an addiction, taxpayer money would be better spent funding programs designed to treat the addiction and rehabilitate the patient.
What Do I Do If Someone I Love Is Dependent on Opioids?
The Minnesota Department of Human Services recognizes that substance abuse is a treatable medical condition. According to their data, 82% of people who successfully complete a treatment program and receive supportive services afterward, do not return. They also recognize that many people who need treatment don’t get it.
If you love someone who is addicted to opioids, the best thing you can do is help them get treatment. You can’t force someone to accept treatment, but you can assist them in getting the information they need and providing them with things like transportation, if necessary.
If the person you love has been arrested and charged with a crime related to their addiction, making sure they have a strong attorney who is knowledgeable about the programs and options available to them in Minnesota can make a huge difference.
Does Minnesota Have Good Samaritan Laws?
Yes, Minnesota Statute 604A.05 allows for a person to seek medical assistance for themselves or another person experiencing an emergency stemming from drug overdose without fear of prosecution. For example, if you call 911 because your friend is experiencing a drug-related overdose, neither you nor your friend will be prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance. The law is designed to prevent overdose deaths by encouraging citizens to contact the police in an emergency.
Drug crimes in the state of Minnesota can be quite complex. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime, there may be alternatives to harsh penalties. Retaining the services of an experienced Minnesota attorney can be the difference between navigating the consequences of opioid addiction successfully and encountering legal troubles that make things more difficult.