The Potluck

Amid addiction ‘tsunami,’ Legislature must invest now, advocates say

By: - June 10, 2021 12:48 pm

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The pandemic set off intertwining social, economic and health crises that have in turn catalyzed a surge in addiction in Minnesota and nationwide, according to addiction experts and early data.

A group of advocates gathered at the Capitol Thursday called on the Legislature to make a major investment in treatment and recovery.

“We are in the middle of an addiction epidemic being driven by alcohol, opioids and meth,” said John Magnuson, executive director of Minnesota Association for Resources for Recovery in Chemical Health. “The field needs investments now to survive the coming addiction tsunami.”

The Minnesota Department of Health reported a 27% increase in drug overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020, resulting in 1,008 overdose deaths in 2020.

Citing Department of Human Services data, the advocates say nearly 90% of Minnesotans who need help for addiction do not get it.

The advocates want Minnesota to pursue federal money, which can be obtained if providers meet a national standard of care approved by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. They also want a robust state investment to help the providers meet the new standard, while giving patients more access.

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and toddler son.