RED RIVER VALLEY -

The opioid epidemic in the Red River Valley is still in full force with 28 opioid related arrests in this year alone.

FM Ambulance and Fargo Police Department say recent efforts haven't had much of an effect on certain statistics, but there are promising signs of progress.

Overdose cases are staying steady, if not rising, says FM Ambulance.

Opioid related arrests in Fargo have almost doubled since last year and there have been 33 overdose cases since February.

The hardest thing about dealing with opiates is that they don't affect just one demographic.

"People from all walks of life," said Lt. Shannon Ruziska of the Fargo Police Department. "As far as economic background, the drug doesn't know any barriers that way."
 
Although opiate related overdoses and arrests are on the increase it appears overdose related deaths are on the decline.
 
"The numbers of deaths is dropping but the overall number of overdoses is continuing to remain high or even continuing to grow," said Don Martin of FM Ambulance.
 
It's hard to pinpoint what's responsible for the drop in deaths, but it's worth mentioning the decline is occurring after the informational campaigns began.
 
"I would like to say I hope it is," Martin said. "Just with the community outreach just with the information getting it out there, people are more educated about it now."
 
Another sign of progress is access to Narcan for first responders.
 
"I do know that we're seeing Narcan a lot," added Ruziska. "Most of the users we come across have Narcan with them. So the education campaign to teach people to use Narcan to save lives has been a big success."
 
Police say they will continue ramping up their efforts until the user count and overdose cases stop.
 
"We will keep on arresting them to make our community the least desirable place for a drug dealer to live who's selling these drugs. That's our goal," said Ruziska.

Lt. Ruziska says the opiate battle will be measured over the course of years.

Fargo Police released to KVRR the following statistics: