Posted at: 09/14/2012 6:36 PM
Updated at: 09/14/2012 6:41 PM
By: Katie Eldred
Statewide Strategy to Combat Substance Abuse
(ABC 6 News) -- An estimated 135 billion dollars of state funding is spent on substance abuse issues each year whether that be medical costs or law enforcement. Now officials are seeing a rise in abuse when it comes to drugs like heroin.
State officials are hoping to get ahead of the problem with a new cross agency strategy.
From 2010 to 2011 the amount of heroin seized by Minnesota law enforcement more than doubled..
Judith Eichman of Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center in Rochester says the increase in heroin and other opiate use is alarming. She says it has a much bigger impact on our community than one may think.
"The person not coming to work, the production level decreases, we also see the person is now is involved in corrections and you have the probation officers as well, so if you look at the bigger problem it will continue to grow if we don't intervene early enough," said Eichmen.
Minnesota substance abuse director Carol Falkowski says state officials are now working together to put in place the first statewide strategy to combat substance abuse in Minnesota.
"We need to realize more efficiencies and produce better outcomes by working more deliberately together with common goals," said Falkowski.
She says the strategy uses information from several state agencies to combine public safety, prevention, intervention, and treatment to reduce substance abuse.
"It gives people some guide posts for moving forward as well as defining what we need to do right now, which is to address this prescription opiate and heroin problem."
Eichman is hopeful that the strategy will help ramp up efforts across the board.
"If we work at this problem as a whole rather than individually, we will have a greater impact," said Eichman.
State leaders are scheduled to discuss the strategy through a community meeting in Rochester on November 14th.