Forum on Opioids Held at South Ridge School

Attendees Learned How to Administer Narcan and Could Dispose of Unused Prescriptions

CULVER, Minn. – St. Louis County officials are continuing to battle the opioid epidemic in this region.

At a program at South Ridge School in Culver, people learned how to administer Narcan to an overdose victim. They could also give unused prescription drugs to St. Louis County Sheriff deputies for them to be disposed.

Speakers said opioid addiction affects everybody in rural areas just as much as in larger cities.

They said overdose deaths are almost a daily occurrence in this region.

“One of the standard questions I almost always get at these functions is who’s a typical drug user and my standard response is they’re either male or female between the ages of thirteen and seventy-five because that really describes who’s being affected by this,” said Jeff Polcher, a substance abuse intervention social worker in St. Louis County. “We’re seeing seniors, we’re seeing young children.”

Because overdoses are so common and can happen anywhere, officials recommend that everybody learns how to administer naloxone or narcan, the drug that stops opioid effects.

“We have a lot of resources in Duluth but it’s important to get in the rural areas and make sure people have naloxone because it really requires someone to be at the scene of the overdose and administer it right away,” said Laura Palombi, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy in Duluth.

“You just fill the syringe which anybody can do because it’s really easy even if you’re not a needle person and put it through upper arm or upper thigh, so in the muscle area, stand back for about sixty seconds, if it doesn’t change maybe do some rescue breathing and then you’ve got a second dose that you can do a second time if you need to bring that person out of it,” said Stephanie Devich, a licensed alcohol drug counselor.

If you have unused prescriptions, even if they’re not opioids, it’s recommended that you bring them to Sheriff’s Department offices or other disposal locations so they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Local addiction coalitions made up of concerned citizens, counselors, and law enforcement exist in Duluth and are being formed in other communities across St. Louis County.

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