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How a Small Town Treated Addiction Like a Disease and Not a Crime

woman discusses addiction with therapist

When 25 year-old Monica Rudolph did not know where to turn to clean herself of her heroin addiction in Little Falls, Minnesota, she called treatment centers but would have to wait two weeks to be admitted since she needed a diagnosis and a referral from a doctor first. To avoid waiting that long, she called St. Gabriel’s Hospital where she was immediately transferred to a substance abuse counselor who did her referral over the phone. This small town in Minnesota clearly take substance abuse seriously and ensures its citizens to get help. The rise of opioid abuse occurred in Little Falls as a result of the surge in opioid painkillers. Excess pills would end up in the black market stolen by teenagers from parents or grandparents and sold them to their friends. Then, a legal crackdown on pills left users desperate enough to try street heroin such as with Monica. By 2014, the opioid crisis could no longer be ignored three people were dying of overdoses every year in this small town of 33,000.  Because more than 100,000 opioid pills were prescribed every month, the help of a $368,000 state grant allowed the hospital to read the charts of patients to see who was getting so many refills. 626 people were helped as a result and crimes related to drugs were dropped. The clinic also formed a care team that consists of a social worker, nurse, two doctors, and a pharmacist who prescribe those struggling with addiction Suboxone that reverses drug overdoses. Little Falls success comes from using $1.4 million in state grants on limiting prescription refills, increasing access to addiction medication, and admitting patients to treatment instead of to jail. Emergency room visits to obtain painkillers fell in the last six months after the hospital was monitoring prescriptions. 100 patients are on addiction medication at St. Gabriel’s and 626 people weaned off opioids. St. Gabriel’s doctor Kurt DeVine and his colleague Heather Bell, who both prescribe buprenorphine to taper patients from opioids, speaks of how things work in regards to addiction recovery in Little Falls through online seminars. This little town shows how their government is putting state grants to good use. Now if the police find someone with stolen pills, they are referred for treatment instead of arrest. If more towns treated the opioid crisis the same way that Little Falls does, there would be less nationwide overdoses.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals who understand addiction in all its forms. The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us today at 844-413-2690.