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Published on Friday, May 6, 2016

Battling the epidemic of opioid addiction takes a team effort

Opioid addiction is now an epidemic, according to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That includes addiction to both the illegal form - heroin, and legal versions - painkillers. In fact, four out of five heroin addicts say they started on prescription drugs. The results are devastating: skyrocketing incidents of overdoses, more and more children being removed from homes where parents battle addiction, and other heartbreak

Senator Amy Klobuchar has been holding forums throughout the state seeking input from those on the front lines in this battle, and today she stopped in Duluth. The panel discussion included two St. Louis County representatives: County Attorney Mark Rubin and PHHS's Marcia Gurno, who helps coordinate the Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Initiative (SAPII). Also participating were representatives from local law enforcement, substance abuse treatment programs and medical experts.

The panel had numerous suggestions for the Senator of ways the federal government could help, focusing on areas including prevention, treatment, recovery support and more. (Read the letter presented to the Senator here.) For instance, it was noted that the Drug Court program has a high success rate with participants, but only people convicted of felonies have access to Drug Court resources. Whereas an individual who has overdosed and is brought to a hospital must typically wait four to six weeks to get the help they need.

The most powerful moment came when a young mother named Jessica shared her story of overcoming what was a seven-year addiction. She started taking pills at age 13. At one point she ended up in a local hospital's Intensive Care Unit for three weeks, but even that wasn't enough to get her to stop. It was when she learned she was pregnant that she finally found the motivation to seek help from Marcia Gurno (shown below, holding the microphone. Jessica's daughter is the little girl on the right.)

Jessica ended her comments thanking St. Louis County and Marcia Gurno for saving her life.

St. Louis County employees with Senator Amy Klobuchar. L-R are: Marcia Gurno, Mark Rubin, Sen. Klobuchar, Asst County Attorney Ben Stromberg, Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook, Public Health and Human Service Director Dave Lee, Adult Services Division Director Gena Bosshert and SAPII Coordinator Jeff Polcher.

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Author: Dana Kazel

Categories: St. Louis County Spotlight

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We welcome comments to this blog. Any comments submitted to this page are public records subject to disclosure under public record law(s). Comments expressed on this site do not reflect the opinions and position of St. Louis County government or its employees. All comments will be moderated, which means there may be a time delay between when a comment is submitted and when it appears. Inappropriate comments, comments not topically related, profane or vulgar language, or comments that are discriminatory will be rejected. Likewise, we will not permit comments that are political in nature, libelous, make any type of personal attack, violate copyrights, solicitations, conduct or encourage illegal activity, or that may compromise the safety, security or proceedings of public systems or any criminal or civil investigations.

Dana-Kazel-2017

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Dana Kazel 
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Sold! How tax forfeited land auctions help communities and lower your taxes

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Most tax forfeited land is kept for forest management.... At the same time, we are always looking for opportunities to resell and develop properties if that’s their best use. We want those parcels back on the property tax rolls.

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A pie in the face for a good cause

pie in the face for United WayWho is this St. Louis County department head and why is he smiling? (And trust us, beneath all that whipped cream, he really is smiling.) Because he just helped raise hundreds of dollars for the United Way.

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