Community conversation surrounding new documentary 'The Opioid Fix'

Created: November 12, 2019 10:51 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Mayo Clinic and TPT-Twin Cities PBS teamed up to create a three part documentary series called 'The Opioid Fix' which looks at how the opioid epidemic started and what we as individual communities and a nation can to do help tackle it.

Parts of the documentary were shown during a panel discussion Tuesday night at Mayo Clinic.  One part in particular showed local law enforcement talking about the change in both the drugs and the amounts they're seeing on the streets. In the documentary Sheriff Kevin Torgerson said, "It's all over and we're being invaded.  How do we fight it?  We fight it through the medical practice, prescribing less... we fight it by enforcement, but we also have to find that way to get people from starting."

During the panel discussion that followed the question was asked, when did the medical community start to realize there was a problem and the way opioids were being prescribed might have to change?

Halena Gazelka, M.D. with the Mayo Clinic Stewardship Program answered saying, "Around 2014, 2015 we really started hearing more about this. In 2016 is when we formed our Opioid Stewardship Program at Mayo.  We came to recognize that we really didn't know what we were doing as far as how our prescribing practices were; whether there were any internal checks and balances and how our providers were prescribing and really if we were doing the right thing."

Dionne Hart, M.D. a psychiatrist and co-president of the Zumbro Valley Medical Society also said, "it's about educating people to reduce the stigma so they realize that help is available.  You treat it [addiction] like any other medical illness, and part of it is you're going to slip, right?  That's a part of recovery.  If I had diabetes and my blood sugar was high I wouldn't say 'oh, well you're a lost cause, we're just going to give up on you.' No, it's about continuing to give that person hope and say, 'we're still here for you.  We're going to meet you where you are.'"

Local law enforcement and an addiction specialists also talked about their experiences and efforts being made here in southeastern Minnesota.

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