Minnesota cities and counties to see national opioid settlement money

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(ABC 6 News) – The state attorney general’s office says the opioid crisis has killed 5,500 Minnesotans.

Minnesota will see money from nationwide opioid settlements from drug company Johnson and Johnson and other opioid distributors — nearly 300 million dollars. Governor Tim Walz and State Attorney General Keith Ellison said no amount of money can make up for the lives lost, but they’ll use it to help people get treatment.

Most of us will never understand withdrawal, but those who do know it’s extremely difficult to face alone or without resources.

"It’s the flu times one thousand is what they say," said Tim Volz, a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

The state hopes money from these national settlements will offer relief. 75 percent of that money will go directly to cities and counties involved in the settlements. The remaining 25 percent will go to the state to be overseen by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council. Addiction counselors think this money could be used to expand treatment that helps wean people off opioids like heroin, called medication-assisted treatment.

"It allows you to work, you know be a father a mother and do all these things without having this 24/7 obsession of where am I gonna get it next? I don’t wanna get dopesick," Volz said.

The county could also use the money to open more recovery centers, which would offering people with substance abuse disorders a place to connect. Experts say this is an important part of recovery.

"With the pandemic and 2020 people were not able to be connected. And I think the results of that are disastrous," Volz said.

It’s still unclear if Olmsted County will get money from these settlements, but the county board of commissioners may discuss the possibility in a meeting Dec. 14.