Bismarck News

Opioid Addiction Puts Strain on Small Town North Dakota

Bismarck - Opioid addiction: A trillion dollar problem hitting close to home.

And one small North Dakota town is enlisting all the help it can get. 

From the police station, schools, to local city hall, nothing has been left untouched.

"The only way you solve this problem is if it becomes a community issue and the community works together," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota says.

This isn't a big city problem, opioids have touched every part of these small town streets.

So rural cities like Beulah and Hazen are facing the problem head on recruiting law enforcement, schools, and healthcare officials to fight.

[People with addiction] are our citizens as well and [we're] trying to get them to the services and the resources that they need to heal,"  Chief Frank Senn, Beulah Police Department says.

But officials say federal dollars are still needed to cover rising costs.

"This is a problem in every place in North Dakota and we need to provide the support services to the people who are addicted but we also need to provide the support to the community," Heitkamp says.

"[It's important to] be able to have dollars to put boots on the ground to identify, to eradicate, to help address the substances we have in our communities,"  Senn says.

And having those resources is crucial when services like inpatient treatment and counseling aren't always available close by.

"The resources typically are quite a distance away from our jurisdiction or our cities," Senn says.

And beyond the addict, families and children are most at risk.

"We need to be able to have more of those services available in the school system," Michelle Anderson, Mercer County Youth Bureau director says.

Services to stop the cycle of addiction in its tracks.

"If you have adolescences struggling with addiction issues and there aren't enough services available to them, accessible services available, they're going to become addicted adults," Anderson says.

Adults that will add to the rising cost of opioids in North Dakota.

Heitkamp introduced a new bill today to provide $12 billion federal dollars to treat addiction over the next five years.


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