Saving Lives – Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis Conference
“174 opiate overdoses in Cincinnati in six days”
This type of news headline is becoming more familiar to us as the use and abuse of prescription opiate, heroin, and fentanyl increases across the nation. Opioid addiction has become an epidemic and many agencies are trying to find ways to combat this crisis.
Three of our coalition members attend the conference: Saving Lives – Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis on September 7-8 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This event was hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota; the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF); the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy.
The conference featured representatives from a number of communities which are working with the DEA and receiving federal funding to implement the DEA’s 360 Strategy. The DEA’s 360 Strategy recognizes that we need to utilize every community resource possible to reach young people and attack the heroin and prescription drug epidemic at multiple levels.
The DEA 360 Strategy comprises a three-fold approach to fighting drug traffickers:
- Provide DEA leadership with coordinated DEA enforcement actions targeting all levels of drug trafficking organizations and violent gangs supplying drugs in our neighborhoods, as we have been doing with ongoing law enforcement operations.
- Have a long-lasting impact by engaging drug manufacturers, wholesalers, practitioners and pharmacists to increase awareness of the heroin and prescription drug problem and push for responsible prescribing and use of these medications throughout the medical community.
- Change attitudes through community outreach and partnership with local organizations following DEA enforcement actions to equip and empower communities with the tools to fight the heroin and prescription drug epidemic.In the short term, the goal of the 360 strategy is to provide as much information as possible in many different forms to reach young people. Officials work to form a “Community Alliance” that comprises key leaders from law enforcement, prevention, treatment, the judicial system, education, business, government, civic organizations, faith communities, media, social services and others, to form the core of a long-term group that crosses disciplines to help carry the prevention and treatment messages to the local population.The opioid epidemic has reached across the country and some of the statistics which reflect this drug abuse are startling. For example, in Maryland last year, over 900 deaths are attributed to illicit fentanyl. China has over 100,000 fentanyl labs and much of that product (which is 30-50% stronger than heroin) is coming into the U.S. In Eastern Kentucky, 70% of babies are born addicted to opiates. In Hennepin County in the first 6 months of 2016, there have been 35 deaths from opiate overdoses and 38 deaths attributed to heroin.