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Minnesota Announces Statewide Plan to Tackle Drug Abuse

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Minnesota unveiled a statewide plan this week to tackle drug abuse, in response to the rising abuse of prescription opioids, and the increasing purity of heroin on the streets.

The plan, which focuses on prevention, aims to strengthen drug prevention efforts through schools, correctional facilities, drug courts, the medical community and family-based counseling, the Star Tribune reports.

“Substance abuse is a serious and costly issue that affects us all,” Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said in a news release. “The long-term and immediate steps recommended in this comprehensive strategy will help save lives and dollars by making our prevention and treatment efforts more efficient and effective.”

At a news conference to announce the plan, Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy said the state also needs more chemical dependency treatment for prison inmates, most of whom are addicted to drugs before they enter prison. “We only have 800 treatment beds, and we are not meeting the needs of our offenders,” Roy said. “There are more than 100,000 former offenders on our streets now. This is a life-and-death issue.”

According to the new Minnesota State Substance Abuse Strategy, the purity of Mexican heroin in Minneapolis is among the highest in the country, and the cost of heroin per pure milligram is among the lowest. The report also notes, “Addiction to prescription narcotics is at record-high levels according to numerous sources, and the collateral consequences of widespread prescription narcotic abuse, trafficking and addiction have continued to erode the quality of life and public safety in the communities.”

The new plan calls for increased participation by doctors and pharmacists in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, which tracks prescriptions for controlled substances. The plan also calls for training for doctors in addiction, prescribing opioids and alternative approaches to managing pain.

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