Opioid overdoses on the rise

Published: Nov. 20, 2017 at 8:12 AM CST
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“Anybody can become addicted to opioids,” said Bismarck Police Department Detective, Tyler Welk.

The opioid epidemic has been affecting thousands across the country since 2014. Opioid overdose deaths have more than doubled in the last two years.

North Dakota plays a role in the issue.

According to the Center for Disease Control 20 people died in the state after an opioid overdose in 2013.

That number increased in 2014, according to the CDC with 43 deaths.

In 2015, that number went up by 36.5 percent to 61 opioid overdose deaths.

And the North Dakota Department of Health says there were 68 overdose deaths in 2016.

In Bismarck, addiction and overdoses are on the rise.

Bismarck Police Department is trying to figure out where the problem is stemming from

They recognize there's been a "dramatic increase" in opioid overdoses within the last year.

Opioid overdoses lead the country for accidental deaths, that's according to a 2016 study from the National Safety Council.

"The number keeps rising and I think it has to do with the availability that we have of heroin and opioids within our town," said Welk.

Exposure to opioids for some hits closer to home.

"I started taking hydrocodone out of my parent's medicine cabinet. You know? They were addicts from the day I was born," said a recovering addict, Shila Stiefel.

Shila Stiefel sought treatment from the Heartview Foudnation over three years ago; it was her eleventh try in 15 years to get better.

"I couldn't take it another day. My addiction was so insane that I woke up needing it," said Stiefel.

Stiefel isn't alone in this battle.

In Bismarck there have been ten opioid overdoses since October 27th and Narcan has been administered over 16 times.

The Medical Director of Heartview says they've had an increase of patients addicted to opioids in the last several years.

"It is deadly, it is scary, and we're seeing people come in because of these rash of overdoses that we've had. We've seen people come in and they're scared. They're afraid for their lives," said the Heartview Foundation Medical Director, Missy Henke.

Henke says people get addicted for many reasons, like pain.

"Opioids, it's a completely different animal, it could be anybody," said Welk.

Welk and Henke say they're seeing less of prescription opioid addictions and more of the illegal opiate heroin, because of its cost.

"You could get a lot more for a gram of heroin in Bismarck North Dakota than you can say in Chicago,” said Welk.

He says the import of heroin is coming from three main cities, Minneapolis, Detroit or Chicago.

The department's goal is stopping the flow of heroin into the city.

"It is probably one of the most important things we're dealing with law enforcement right now is the opioid epidemic," said Welk.

As for Heartview, they're treating their opioid addicted patients with medicine like Suboxone.

"The reason we started using medication to treat opioid dependence at Heartview is people couldn't get through the withdrawal, couldn't engage in treatment,” said Henke.

Stiefel says Suboxone saved her life. She urges people to get help.

"There's life after addiction. People say it's…addiction ends in either in death or prison. No it doesn't. Addiction can end in recovery," said Stiefel.

Welk said this is a community effort and something law enforcement can't fight on their own.

Bismarck Treatment Centers:

A.D.A.P.T Inc 701-255-3717

Heartview Foundation 701-222-6386

Heritage Recovery Center 701-258-3819

New Freedom Center 701-222-4673

North Dakota Adult and Teen Center 701-667-2131