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Opioid Abuse Training Draws Dozens Of Officers, Community Members

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The East Metro Crime Prevention Coalition brought together officials from Ramsey, Washington and Dakota counties Wednesday for a training session on strategies to combat opioid abuse.

The Rosemount Community Center was full as people heard from speakers impacted by opioid abuse.

Lexi Reed Holtum lost her fiancé, Steve Rummler, to addiction.

"It is the number-one public health crisis that we are facing, and there are solutions," Holtum said.

She now runs the Steve Rummler HOPE Network, and says people need to treat opioid addiction with the same compassion they would for any other disease.

"People who have the disease of addiction are like you, are like your children, are like your parents," Holtum said. "I am the face of addiction."

The Minnesota Department of Health showed off its new online opioid dashboard. Preliminary numbers show more than 400 Minnesotans died from opioid-related incidents in 2017.

"The opioid dashboard is meant to be for anyone who's working on opioid overdose prevention, substance use disorder prevention or opioid misuse," said Kate Erickson, MDH's Opioid Overdose Prevention director.

From law enforcement's side, Ramsey County Attorney James Backstrom says it will take collaboration with law enforcement, doctors, first responders and the public to address the problem at all levels.

"We got to try to save lives, we got to try to treat those who are chemically addicted, keep these drugs off of our streets," Backstrom said.

Reed says continuing to talk about and implement strategies works. It was reported that 2,000 people were saved from opioid-related deaths last year thanks to the help of first responders.

The Minnesota Department of Health says one thing everyone can do is to regularly clean out and safely dispose of the unused medication in their homes.

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