Panelists: Alcohol still kills more people than opioids in Cass County … – INFORUM

That ratio, documented in a recent Cass County coroner’s analysis, was cited by panelists in a discussion held Friday, Sept. 14, as speakers noted that alcohol abuse remains the area’s most persistent and engrained substance abuse problem.

The discussion, led by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., came just a day after Fargo police announced a spike in opioid overdoses, including several recent deaths. “We have an addiction crisis,” Heitkamp said, noting an increase in cocaine use as an example, not merely an opioid crisis.

Adam Martin of F5, a program that helps convicts re-enter society, said his organization’s primary obstacles are a lack of housing and transportation for its clients. F5 has 100 peer support coaches around North Dakota, but most are inactive because they are ineligible for Medicaid reimbursement, Martin said.

“They’re just sitting there,” he said.

That was one of many examples of gaps in the network of programs to help those with mental health or substance abuse problems cited by participants in the discussion, who pleaded for more comprehensive solutions.

Lack of funding for more comprehensive treatments was another recurring concern. People with addictions, including the chronic homeless population, have deep-seated and complex problems that must be overcome to achieve sobriety, participants said.

Rep. Pam Anderson, D-Fargo, whose background is in banking, said North Dakota has been unwilling to invest adequately to solve its social problems. She cited a consultant’s report two years ago documenting significant gaps in the state’s behavioral health system.

After the report, there was a consensus to allocated $27 million to address the problems. In the end, the North Dakota Legislature appropriated $383,000, Anderson said, adding that the state relies too heavily on federal funding.

“We don’t put any money in ourselves,” she said. “I think we have a human infrastructure problem in our

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