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More Than 1,000 Stakeholders from Throughout Minnesota Convene to Define the Problem with Prescription Painkillers and Develop Solutions

AUG 25 (MINNEAPOLIS) - More than 1,000 law enforcement, public health officials, health care professionals, attorneys, drug court representatives, medical students, state, tribal and local government staff, community leaders, recovering addicts and their families from across Minnesota are meeting to address the pain pill problem. The Pain.Pill.Problem. conference brings together experts from the medical, public health and law enforcement fields to look at all sides of opioid abuse and ultimately develop solutions to the problem.

The conference consists of six panels on the following topics:

  • The Impact of Opioid Addiction
  • Prescribing & Pain Culture
  • Pharmacy & Distribution
  • Law Enforcement
  • Opioid Treatment
  • Recovery, Prevention & the Role of Community

Conferees will also hear from speakers on these important issues, including Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, United States Senator Amy Klobuchar, United States Congressman Tom Emmer, The Honorable Mary Bono, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, Dick Beardsley, and others.

“Each case of opioid diversion and addiction represents lives ruined, careers tossed aside and tragic collateral consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “Doctors, pharmacists, political leaders, legislators, regulators, and civic leaders must address this problem without finger pointing or blame. We need to work together to come up with solutions and that is what the Pain.Pill.Problem. conference is all about. We owe it to our kids, we owe it to our neighbors and we owe it to each other.”

“Narcotic painkillers are being over-prescribed in Minnesota, leading to addiction, abuse and serious consequences. In the last decade, overdose deaths have more than doubled. Painkillers now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.  We need to have a conversation as a society about how we can treat pain in ways that restores function and this conference is a step in the right direction,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.

“Prescription drug abuse has reached crisis levels, and we should leave no stone unturned in our efforts to reverse this deadly trend,” said United States Senator Amy Klobuchar. “I was proud to participate in today’s critical summit on developing new tools and sharing best practices to help fight this devastating epidemic. I will continue to work with all those who share my commitment to combatting prescription drug abuse on behalf of Minnesota families.”

“The sobering truth is more Minnesotans are dying from prescription drugs than virtually all other drugs combined,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Moren. “The source of these pills is not a foreign based drug cartel. The responsibility of reversing this deadly trend rests with our domestic law enforcement, medical/health care, pharmaceutical, and addiction treatment communities changing the way they do business – it starts by learning the facts at the Pain.Pill.Problem. Summit. The public is reminded to properly dispose of all unused and/or expired prescription drugs at the nearest collection site – this service is free and anonymous. For more information, visit www.DEA.gov.”

“Minnesota is facing the same crisis that the rest of the country is,” said the Honorable Mary Bono. “Opioid misuse, and now heroin use, have overtaken our communities like a plague. I applaud the organizers and supporters of the Pain.Pill.Problem. event and thank them for stepping up to address the crisis. Countless lives hang in the balance.”

“Too many people are dying every day across Minnesota from opioid overdose. Those deaths are preventable. I urge every family and community leader to learn what they can do to educate our youth and to take proactive steps to prevent addiction and overdose,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “As Sheriff of Hennepin County, I am proud of the partnerships among local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies to dismantle criminal drug operations and promote prevention.”

“For Minnesota to make progress on the issue of opioids it will require collaboration and engagement by all the stakeholders,” said Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a pain specialist and anesthesiologist at Mayo Clinic. “This conference offered a convening opportunity and I’m optimistic that we can take our learnings and move forward together.”

“This gathering today proves we’re all in this together,” said Nick Motu, Vice President of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy. “We’ve made addressing the opioid crisis a bedrock of the advocacy efforts at our organization, and by coming together with others around solutions like we did today, we can make real progress against this epidemic.”

“There are no simple solutions for opiate addiction. To make a meaningful difference, we will need to engage a broad-based coalition,” said Brooks Jackson, MD, dean of the Medical School and vice president of Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota. “This conference is a great first step. We look forward to continuing this work going forward, addressing broader issues like health policy as well as day-to-day issues around care delivery and treatment of addiction.”

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.


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