Minot’s approach to the fentanyl crisis

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 7:13 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) - The synthetic opioid fentanyl is a major contributor to overdoses across the US, with more than 100,000 people dying from the drug over the past year, according to the CDC. All states have felt the impact. That’s why Minot police and addiction specialists have been working to keep those in our community safe.

Staff at the Minot Area Recovery Community Organization see the impact of fentanyl and addiction every day. They say addiction impacts one in four people.

“I used to make the news when I was in active addiction, and now I make the news because I am in recovery,” said Kevin Perdue, Minot Area Recovery Community Organization program director, and certified peer support specialist.

While Perdue and others work to help community members find recovery, Minot Police say they’re working to address the issue too. They say the biggest indicator of the scope of the fentanyl crisis is the overdose calls to which they respond.

“We see more people dying [compared to other drugs] because it is such a powerful drug,” said Minot Chief of Police John Klug.

Minot police responded to 20 overdose deaths in 2020, 18 in 2021, and 10 this year, to date.

“Kind of sad to say, ‘Only 10,’ but prior to that we had been in the single digits and zero for years,” said Chief Klug.

Now, they’re seizing hundreds of pills and pounds of fentanyl at a time. They say taking large quantities of drugs off the streets can help prevent immediate overdoses, but the problem runs deeper. That’s why Minot’s approach included crisis centers and other resources.

“Providing services that are empathetic, that look more towards, not necessarily the ‘what,’ but the ‘why,’” said Perdue.

“We used to say, ‘Well, there’s no services here, there’s nothing available, that’s why there’s a problem.’ Now, there’s more services, it’s just are they the right services? Everybody’s trying to fine-tune to hit the sweet spot to help as many people as possible. I think that’s where our community gets it right. They are trying to hit those marks,” said Chief Klug.

Chief Klug adds that the addition of the crisis stabilization unit and crisis residential unit has provided police with a place to take people in need of help.

Those at MARCO say one of the gaps left in the Minot recovery community is the lack of a male sober living facility.

“A male goes into treatment, gets done with treatment, what happens after that?” said Perdue.

Both agree that the fight against fentanyl is worthwhile.

“It comes down to, those are lives that we are saving,” said Chief Klug.

The MARCO center provides free services to connect individuals with treatment options in Minot.