Minnesota Health Professionals Fight Substance Abuse Around the State

Professionals tackle substance abuse at the annual Minnesota Prevention Program Sharing Conference.

DULUTH, Minn.- Educators, doctors and health professionals from across the state are in Duluth this week for the 45th annual Minnesota Prevention Program Sharing Conference.

The event at the DECC is a way professionals can talk about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to fighting substance abuse problems in the area.

These days it’s all focus on how professionals respond to vaping and the dangers that come with it, but substance abuse goes back decades and it’s a tough balance fighting new trends and keeping up with old dangers like alcohol.

Alcohol is still the number one abused substance among kids and adults. These are the kinds of statistics professionals learn in workshops and from their peers at the MPRC.

Conference founder Al Fredrickson says he’s seen a lot change in the types of substances being abused over the past 40 years, but the way professionals can fight dangerous substances remains the same.

“We need to kind of keep remember that the things that we know that work in prevention work for alcohol and other drugs– alcohol, tobacco, they work for vaping, they work for opioids, they work for all those things, so we just have to make sure we’re not re–doubling our efforts to do what we know works all the time,” Fredrickson said.

This year’s conference has more than 200 people attending.

Despite an increase in mental health issues as well as opioid use in recent years among substance abusers, officials believe these types of conferences have long term benefits over all.

“All of these groups have different ways of doing things and tackling different problems. So one person might inform another’s work and say, ‘Oh, this is how we’re doing health prevention, what are you doing?’ and kind of feed off each other,” project director Swetha Nayak said.

This was the Minnesota Prevention Conference’s first year in Duluth.

The conference will be back in St. Cloud next year.

Officials are looking at making this a traveling conference moving forward, so it could be back in Duluth and other parts of Minnesota within the next few years.

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