How the Metro is Battling the Opioid Epidemic

The Fargo Police Department says their priority is arresting the people bringing the drugs to the metro

FARGO, ND — Last year, 23 people died from opioids in Cass County.

This year, through September there have been nine.

The numbers seem to be decreasing in the metro, but the epidemic is still affecting hundreds.

Solving a problem as big as the opioid epidemic is not simple.

“The medical folks are dealing with the issues of drugs and prescriptions,” said Fargo Police Lt. Shannon Rusizka. “It takes us all working together.”

The Fargo Police Department said their priority is arresting the people bringing the drugs to the metro.

Public health officials have another job.

“From a public health standpoint, prevention is very, very important to us,” said Robyn Litke Sall, who is the substance abuse prevention coordinator at Fargo Cass Public Health. “We’re working on a number of prevention campaigns and prevention methods that have been proven effective.”

The Take Back Program lets people clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of the prescriptions.

Litke Sall said starting the opioid treatment program was key to helping those in need.

“Wow, that’s 85 people that are being helped right now,” Litke Sall said.

When access goes down, abuse does down and that is with the help of the community.

“Opioid overdose deaths this year are down from last year and I think a lot of that is the community is stepping forward and watching out for each other,” said Rusizka.

But there is still more that needs to be done.

“Unfortunately, we have not cut down the usage that much I don’t think,” Rusizka said. “We still have a lot of users out there and while they are not dying that’s a great thing lives are still being ruined.”

The state of North Dakota offers a ton of programs that will help educate victims, users and families.

All are encouraged to take that step in learning more about this crisis.

North Dakota has a very powerful program called L–E–A–D that stands for Listen-Educate-And-Discuss.

It explains ways to discuss the tough topic of opioids and drug overdoses with your children.

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