Dickinson Holds Community Meeting Addressing Heroin Use

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It's a drug Dickinson police are paying attention to, and one that has others in the community talking.

It first appeared in Dickinson two years ago, but today, heroin use is more frequent and accessible in the city.

"Within this last year we've seen several overdoses and some deaths that have occurred from the usage of heroin," said Dustin Dassinger, Dickinson police chief.

Recently there were four overdoses in a week's time. After this, Dickinson police knew they had to get the community involved.

"It was very alarming for our police department it was a huge eye-opener for us," Dassinger said.

An informational meeting Thursday night included remarks from health and drug treatment professionals. Dassinger also talked about how supporting the addiction can lead to other crimes.

"Often times that leads into theft, pawning of personal items and other crimes associated with it," he said.

Other than the police force, the drug has put a strain on the city's hospital. CHI St Joseph's ER is smaller, so with multiple overdoses, it's a challenge. But doctors are very familiar with the symptoms.

"Pupils are really small, not always seen but it can happen with that. Also respiratory depression," said Dr. David Kuylen, emergency medicine at CHI St. Joseph's.

Kuylen adds that another problem for Dickinson is the city's lack of a detox center. In fact, he says there's no place to detox in the southwest part of the state.

"It's overtaxing our ambulance, our sheriff's department, because they transport a lot of our patients to these other facilities. So it's been a challenge; it would be awesome if we could get something like that in this area," Kuylen said.

The meeting also shared the importance of understanding a loved one's addiction. Addiction counselor Jan Kuhn says for heroin addiction, a counselor who also specializes in co-dependency is best.

"That's really where the problem lies with an addicted person, is the people around them are co-dependent, and enabling them and they don't even know it. They're doing it out of love, they just don't know how to deal with the addiction," said Kuhn, Sacajawea Substance Abuse Counseling.

Police say they will be holding more meetings like Thursday's in the future.​

The police say the age of users ranges in Dickinson.