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Minnesota Outlines Statewide Substance Abuse Program

Posted at: 11/14/2012 5:24 PM
Updated at: 11/14/2012 5:44 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Heroin and prescription drug use in southeast Minnesota is on the rise. Wednesday, state health officials stopped in Rochester to talk with people on a local level about the best way to stop it.

Just last month, Minnesota became the first in the country to develop a statewide substance abuse strategy.

"It talks about what we're doing, it sets goals," said Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.

The goal is to end drug abuse. In particular, heroin and prescription drugs, both of which are on the rise.

"We've seen an 89 percent increase in the amount of prescription drugs seized. And we've seen a 669 percent increase in the amount of heroin seized," said Dohman.

"Abuse is still linked to increased crime, illness, child abuse, birth defects, motor vehicle crashes, accidental overdose deaths and so many more things," said Jesson.

Sharon Schlingman knows first hand the devastating effects drugs can have. In August, she lost her daughter Rachael to a heroin overdose.

"I'll never have another child, I'll never have grand babies," said Schlingman when she sat down with ABC 6 in August.

It's heartache like that, that health officials are trying to prevent. They're going across the state, getting input on the best ways to do that.

"Truly what you have right here also, your statewide strategy, is bringing everybody to the table. Not missing anybody that could be a part of that," said State Senator Julie Rosen. 

"We're talking about obesity and some of those things right now. We need to make this as big of a deal as that. And I'm hoping that this is the platform for that," said Paul Fleissner, with Olmsted County Community Services.

The event brings everyone together, all working for a common cause.

"The key to our strategy, if you look through it, is prevention. We must reach people before they hit that downward cycle of addiction and substance abuse that leads to the destruction of their family," said Jesson.