ST. PAUL, Minn. – Jennifer Brovick has been demanding change ever since her 19-year-old son Dylan died of a heroin overdose almost two years ago.
And now she believes she’s making progress.
“I’m glad they’re taking notice of something now,” she said after reading a new state report about the epidemic.
This week the state attorney general released a comprehensive report on preventing prescription drug abuse which can often lead people to heroin.
“This is not something Minnesota can prosecute its way out of,” said Lori Swanson, Minnesota’s Attorney General.
She offered a number of recommendations, including some that a state strategy offered four years ago but still haven’t been adopted.
For example, she wants to require prescribers to check a patient’s drug history through a state database before prescribing another painkiller.
“That would help cut down on doctor shopping,” said Swanson.
Some physicians and other health workers have pushed back because they believe the state’s prescription monitoring website is too cumbersome to navigate and that not every doctor needs to use the database.
The state legislature passed a law this year that requires doctors and other dispensers to register with the Prescription Monitoring Database, but doesn’t require them to use it.
Other recommendations that go beyond the state’s strategy on substance abuse include:
*making it easier for people to get Naloxone, the medication that can reverse an overdose
*expanding access to treatment, especially in rural areas
*providing more resources to drug courts across the state
*Requiring opioid prescribers and dispensers to take more training about substance abuse and pain management
“The idea or the goal would be to take these ideas and turn them into bills and then hopefully turn them into laws,” she said.
Brovick also wants more detox centers to open in the state. She says it can be difficult to find treatment facilities with enough room for addicts looking for help. That’s something she experienced with her son, she says.
“It’s very, very difficult to find any bed open in the state of Minnesota right now,” she said.
Her love for her son and her grief fuels her to keep pushing.
“He’s got a family that misses him so much,” she said. “This is my second Thanksgiving without him. My second Christmas without him. It’s different. It doesn’t get easier.”
And while she appreciates the state attorney general’s work, she worries the report will collect dust like others before it.
“We have an entire generation of people who are dying and this needs to be looked at,” she said.
You can find the attorney general’s report here.