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Our view: Good to see so many efforts in opioid battle

Mayor Mike Brown says one of the city's duties is to protect its residents. For a few minutes Wednesday, the mayor outlined efforts to protect residents from the ongoing opioid crisis.

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Mayor Mike Brown says one of the city's duties is to protect its residents. For a few minutes Wednesday, the mayor outlined efforts to protect residents from the ongoing opioid crisis.

"Our role to protect from the opioid crisis was front and center in 2017," he said during his annual State of the City address at the Alerus Center. "Our community's Call to Action on Addiction and Substance Use Disorder is taking action to create hope on the horizon."

We appreciate the mayor's discussion on addiction, since all indicators point to a continued struggle in the coming year - not just in Grand Forks, but also in North Dakota, Minnesota and beyond. Nationally, overdose deaths have more than doubled since 1999 and heroin-related deaths have tripled since 2010.

Elected leaders at all levels grasp the issue. That was the first hurdle.

And now it seems they're doing more about it.

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For example: President Trump's proposed budget includes strong hints about how his administration may attempt to tackle the epidemic, according to a Washington Post report from earlier this week. The president's proposal seeks almost $17 billion to fight the crisis in 2019. Among the potential uses of those funds is a $500 million program to partner with the pharmaceutical industry to develop prevention and treatment for addiction and overdose reversal.

Another example: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum last fall signed an executive order directing state agencies to collaborate with local law enforcement to make naloxone - a medication designed to reverse overdose symptoms - available to first responders, community leaders and individual opioid users.

The governor also speaks publicly about addiction at every opportunity, using his powerful position to raise great awareness of the issue.

Another example: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton this week proposed a new "Penny a Pill" program, which he hopes will raise funds to fight opioids. The plan will focus on prevention, emergency response, treatment/recovery and law enforcement. The initial proposal is for $12 million in state dollars in 2019. In addition to state funds, the program would charge drugmakers a fee of about a penny per pill, which Dayton expects would raise $20 million annually to fund opioid-related programs.

And one more example: Mayor Brown, during his speech Wednesday, spoke about several efforts to fight opioids in Grand Forks, including education programs in local schools; training first responders and community members how to use products to reverse overdoses; various recovery assistance programs available locally; and a focus on what he called "intentional community outreach."

During his address, he urged the crowd to join the city's "call to action."

"Let's be clear: Addiction is a chronic disease. In all we do, we must eliminate the stigma. Prevention works, treatment is effective and people do recover," said Brown. "We all have a role, and together we can eliminate the stigma of addiction and develop even more solutions to protect our community."

Related Topics: MIKE BROWN
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