Two State Lawmakers Fight Opioids with Heavy Hearts

May 12, 2017 07:26 PM

You hear so much talk about partisan conflicts at the Minnesota State Capitol that you'd almost think it happens on every issue.  DFL Senator Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center and Republican Rep. Dave Baker of Willmar know that's not true on the issue of fighting the opioid epidemic.

Both lawmakers have lost a child to heroin overdoses. Heroin is a form of opioid. They say Prince's death from an overdose of another type of opioid, fentanyl, is bringing the issue to the forefront. "People are willing to talk about it and it's decreasing the stigma a little bit," Eaton said in an interview recorded for "At Issue."

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Eaton lost a daughter to a heroin overdose in 2007 and she says it caught her by surprise. "I thought she was involved in too much alcohol," Eaton says. "I was aware she had some kind of problem, but I didn't know she was using opioids until police knocked at my door and told us that she was deceased."

Baker tells a similar story about his son who died in 2011 at age 25. "Back pain is where it started," Baker says. "He was not really the partying type in high school and we saw some indicators that we were concerned about his freshman year in college. By the time he was a junior at St. Thomas we saw some real issues and some concerns."

A simple prescription for pain pills eventually resulted in his son's addiction to opioids, treatment for his addiction and eventually a heroin overdose.

The two lawmakers have legislation they hope will pass this session that could result in new labels on prescription drugs warning about addiction. There's also a proposal to make it mandatory for doctors to check a registry to see if a patient has been getting pain pill prescriptions elsewhere to prevent "doctor shopping" for drugs.

You can see the entire interview on "At Issue" Sunday morning at 10 a.m. on KSTP.

Credits

Tom Hauser

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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