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Avera, U.S. Attorney Talk Opioid Abuse In South Dakota

Brady Mallory reports: October 18, 2017

The numbers are dramatic. The CDC says nearly 100 Americans die from opioids everyday. Drug overdoses kill more people under the age of 50 than anything else. Experts say opioids could kill nearly a half million people over the next decade, unless something is done to stop the addiction.

People on the frontlines of the medical and legal communities are teaming up to battle this epidemic. Avera Health and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are hosting an event to look at opioid treatment, prevention, and law enforcement. Experts say one of the most important methods to end opioid abuse starts at home.

Whether it is the emergency room.

“Where I see people who are knocking on death’s door,” Dr. Stacey Hail, MD, Associate Professsor of Emergency Medicine and Medical Toxicology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said.

Or the courtroom.

“After someone has died and you want to prosecute the drug dealer,” Hail said.

Hail sees opioid overdose cases all over the country.  Based in Texas, she’s bringing her knowledge to Sioux Falls to help address the growing problem in South Dakota.  She is the keynote speaker at “The Opioid Epidemic: A Wicked Problem of the Worst Kind”.

“Drug dealers are actually marketing to suburban communities, because this is a business.  They’re trying to profit from addiction,” Hail said.

This is part of the discussion at this conference.

“This is the intersection of medicine and law,” Randy Seiler, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, said.

South Dakota is not as deeply impacted as other parts of the country, but that’s changing.  Seiler says nearly 150 South Dakotans have died from overdoses from 2012-2016.

“One is too many,” Seiler said.

The goal is to promote awareness and find solutions to the problem.  Though opioid addiction mostly impacts people in their 40s and 50s, Deb Fischer-Clemens with Avera says we also need to look out for the younger generations.

“Get the pills out of grandma’s medicine cabinet, uncle’s medicine cabinet, where young children can walk in and take a look,” Fischer-Clemens, Senior Vice President for Public Policy, said.

To help people avoid the emergency room or the courtroom, Seiler says opioid abuse prevention starts at home.

“Talk to your kids. Be aware of these matters.  Let’s address it as a state,” Seiler said.

You can drop-off day for safe disposal of unwanted or unused medication. A drop box is located in the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center, 320 West 4th St. in Sioux Falls, and the lobby is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

No questions are asked and there are no forms to fill out.

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