Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan speaks on the opioid epidemic
The Deputy Secretary of the US Health and Human Services was in Duluth on Friday meeting with leaders working to reduce opioid misuse. It's an epidemic that has left virtually no city or town unaffected including Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan says he's here for people who are dealing with the opioid issue first-hand to find out what works, and what doesn't work.
"We are looking not only to just engaging today but in the future," said Hargan.
We caught up with Hargan while he was visiting Essentia Health St. Mary's, in Duluth.
"Try[ing] to figure out exactly how to respond best to this, and what models for communities, like Duluth and elsewhere, that are going to be effective," said Hargan.
Deputy Secretary Hargan says the opioid crisis is one of the signature health issues of our time that needs to be addressed.
"How can we get a prevention program and message that is updated?" said Hargan.
Hargan says officials working toward a new message of prevention.
"We're not dealing with the programs that might've worked 30, 35 years ago, but we have something that gets to people particularly young people," said Hargan.
Hargan says this epidemic impacts everyone - including families, caregivers, and communities.
"Every day 115 people lose their life to opioid addiction. About half of those [experience] their first opioid.. [from] a prescribed opioid," said Peter Henry, the chief medical officer at Essentia Health.
And northern Minnesota is no exception.
"I don't think there's a family within the state of Minnesota, or our country, or St. Louis County that hasn't been affected by the opioid epidemic," said Henry.
Today's meetings were focused on prevention, treatment, and recovery and how Health and Human Services rules and regulations are either helping or hurting communities.