Doctor who grew up in the Cedar-Riverside area of Minneapolis wants to open an opioid clinic

Plans for opioid treatment center in Cedar-Riverside neighborhood

Plans for opioid treatment center in Cedar-Riverside neighborhood

Dr. Sadik Ali is passionate about helping those fighting opioid addiction.

“For me, it’s very personal,” he said. “I have family members who’ve been affected by this. I have relatives that have died from an overdose. That’s when it hit home for me.”

Ali, an internal medicine specialist who works in Mankato but grew up in Cedar-Riverside, wants to open what he calls the ‘Model C’ center on a property along 20th Avenue South.

“We call this ground zero,” he declared. “This is the epidemic; the epicenter of substance use disorder in our community. It’s tearing it apart. It’s an existential crisis.”

Ali says he’s investing his life savings into the project.

Its estimated cost — more than $34 million.

The goal is to open a 31-bed detox unit; a clinic that would dispense medication for opioid use disorder for 300 people initially — and later twice that. There would also be a counseling facility that would place about 16 people on an abstinence recovery track.

“I feel there’s not enough we can do on the prevention side to educate people just how deadly and how bad this problem is,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara told Ali during a Zoom meeting. “You’re talking about trying to help people that are affected in these groups trying to keep people alive. That keeps getting worse each year.”

City data shows 244 opioid-related deaths in 2022.

That’s about triple the number from 2017.

O’Hara says treatment, not arrests, is the solution for those fighting addiction.

“For people who are addicted and who are suffering through all this, their answer to their problem is not going to be in handcuffs,” O’Hara noted. “We’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of people who are addicted.”

He told Ali he should engage with local elected officials and the public to keep them updated about the project.

Ali says he’s trying to get funding from grants and other sources, but says for now, money for the center is coming out of his own pocket.

He notes he’s still waiting for the required licenses from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the state and federal regulators.

Ali says he hopes to open the first stages of the clinic sometime in May.

“This is something that wakes me up every morning and gives me a purpose,” he declared. “It’s about saving lives and making a difference in our community.”