Carlton County Drug Forum Attracts Hundreds

Meeting Focuses on Heroin and Opioid Abuse

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More than 200 people gathered at the Cloquet Forestry Center, Monday night, to discuss how drug abuse is affecting their community.

Before the forum Cloquet Police Chief, Steve Stracek said about 1/4 of his departments drug calls involve opium based drugs such as heroin and prescription pain pills.

Stracek added that the number of encounters law enforcement officers have had with opioid drugs have been going up across the country in recent years.

Law enforcement officials aren’t the only ones who have noticed the trend.

Northeast Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Coordinator Laura Bennett said Carlton County’s most recent community health survey showed drug abuse was the fourth highest concern the community rated.

Bennett said discussions with law enforcement and other concerned parties such as medical professionals led to the decision to focus on opioids.

Laura Palombi is an Assistant Pharmacy Professor at UMD  and a member of the Carlton County Drug Abuse Task Force.

Palombi helped organize the forum and said she believes everyone has some sort of connection to drug addiction. 

Both Bennett and Palombi said the goal of the meeting was to engage the community and receive input on how to better address the drug abuse problem.

That goal was achieved as the large crowd began engaging speakers in question and answer sessions from the very beginning of the meeting. 

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