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Minnesota Department of Human Services takes steps to help in opioid crisis

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota’s Department of Human Services is offering training for anyone wanting to use the overdose reversal drug Naloxone and is also making an effort to allow easier access to the medication called buprenorphine that is highly effective in helping people get off and stay off opioids.

Department Commissioner Emily Piper said the opioid crisis continues to take a heavy toll.

In the most recent year statistics were available, there were  401 opioid-involved deaths in Minnesota in 2016, a six-fold increase since 2000. Last year, 8,303 Minnesotans sought treatment for heroin and 3,341 for other opioids, including prescription painkillers.

Anyone interested in being trained to use Naloxone can call the department’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division at 651-431-2460 for more information. Funding for the training and for Naloxone distribution is being financed through a two-year, $10.6 million grant and is helping about 30 counties, tribes, providers and community agencies address the opioid crisis through prevention, treatment and recovery programs.

As for buprenorphine, Piper is working with providers and encouraging health insurance plans to end the need for prior authorization requirements to get the drug. The move will allow poeple to access medication-assisted treatment as soon as they are ready.

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