Minnesota Receives Grant to Better Track Opioid Overdoses

September 01, 2017 10:24 PM

Minnesota just received a new grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help crackdown on the opioid epidemic.

Twenty states, including Minnesota, will share the $7.5 million grant to implement changes that will better track opioid overdoses, and improve access to prevention, treatment and recovery services.


Although Minnesota fares better than most states, local experts still call it an epidemic here, amounting to more than 500 overdose deaths every year.

RELATED: Doctors Write Fewer Opioid Prescriptions, but Epidemic Persists

“I think it’s absolutely critical,” said Tim Walsh, Vice President of long term recovery at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, a recovery clinic with 11 facilities around the Twin Cities.

“First off, it’s casting a light on this epidemic and calling it what it is, which is an epidemic. This is tragic what’s going on and it’s out of control what is happening,” he said.

Nicholas LeFlem was a drug user on and off for 25 years. His drug of choice: heroin.

RLEATED: Study: Few Opioid-Addicted Youth Get Standard Treatment Medication

“There were a couple of times when I overdosed and died," he said. "I knew that if I didn’t get back here and finish what God started for me, this wasn’t going to end good."

The center that he considers his savior, stands to benefit greatly from this new grant.

In fact, the funding will help the state better track people just like him.

“What's under reported, and I know we'll be tracking this in this grant, is all the people overdosing who are being saved, who are being rescued,” Walsh said.

People who survive their overdoses, Walsh says, are the best ones to learn from.

They can answer key questions that experts need answered, like what the pathways of drug use are, identifying the supply they’re coming from and the various combination of drugs people are using.


Ryan Raiche

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