2-Year Grant to Provide Narcan Training and Opioid Program Technician

Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force believes helping addicts recover will help reduce opioid epidemic

DULUTH, Minn. – The Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force recently got a federal grant that will help them fight opioid addiction in the Northland and save a lot of lives.

The two-year grant will provide Narcan for regional law enforcement and EMS staff. Narcan is a drug that can help reverse an opioid overdose.

The grant also pays for an Opioid Program Technician who will provide Narcan training for first responders and work with addicts to help them reach treatment and recovery.

The Duluth Police Department has saved more than seventy-two lives using Narcan but many other law enforcement agencies don’t have access to the drug and are not trained to use it.

Duluth’s new Opioid Program Technician, Jessica McCarthy, will provide that training. She will also follow-up with overdose victims, helping them get the support they need on an ongoing basis after a crisis.

“I’m a person in recovery so being able to go to them and being able to say ‘me too, I’ve experienced similar things to you and this is what I did to get out of it’ I think will make it different than an officer saying hey, do you know you can go to treatment,” said McCarthy.

Law enforcement officials hope the new resource will help them reduce opioid overdose death by ten percent in the multiple county task force region over the next two years.

But focusing on substance use recovery, they can attack the epidemic from another angle.

“We had to go on the other side of the equation and start looking at the demand and looking at helping the people on that side because that’s what drives the money, that’s what drives the demand, that’s what causes most of the problems,” said Lt. Jeff Kazel, commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.

With less addicts, law enforcement believes fewer drug dealers will occupy the Northland in the future.

Opioid program technician Jessica McCarthy says one of her goals is to change the community perception of addicts.

She says they are not enjoying their experience and most of them want to get treatment and get sober.

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