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Minot Mayor Chuck Barney formed the Mayor’s Committee on Addiction last year to help identify and study the growing opioid addiction issue in the city. Now, the mayor wants to help the committee take next step in the ongoing battle.Committee member Paul Stroklund is in the process of writing a comprehensive document that will be completed after gathering feedback and suggestions from the full committee and the public. Once the document is finalized, Barney said it will be presented to the City Council.“It is a document that will illustrate the services that are currently available in our community, clearly identify the gaps in services that exist, and identify some roadblocks that exist that might prevent people from getting the care they need,” Barney said.
The City of Minot was notified in March that it had been awarded a Bush Foundation grant of $208,000 to create strategies to address the opioid epidemic and create a regional hub for treatment and family services. Activities funded by the grant include conducting a needs analysis, generating data on the impact of the epidemic in the Minot area, identifying gaps in services and roadblocks to care, increasing community awareness, creating a hub-and-spoke treatment approach with a Community Response Organization to serve as the hub, and working with the North Dakota Health Department to create statewide policy for the disposal of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.Before Barney’s term in office ends this summer, he wants to make changes to the committee’s structure and focus.“My plan is to dissolve this committee, and re-form it as more of an action committee that can work on the roadblocks and obstacles that exist in the community,” Barney said. “The new committee will have a very different focus, going from identifying the problems that exist to moving further into actually solving the issues.”Joining Barney on the committee are City Council members Shannon Straight and Stephan Podrygula, as well as Stroklund, Lisa Clute, Patti Eisenzimmer, Dr. Jeffrey Sather, Jason Olson, Bob Barnard, Chris Ray, Mark Schaefer, Laurie Gotvaslee, Val Potter, and Mark Vollmer.The committee has held several meetings since its initial meeting in July. Members have participated in a public education outreach program, especially Stroklund, who has spoken to numerous service groups and other organizations. The committee has focused on all aspects of addiction, including prevention, treatment, and after-care. A key area has been bringing various agencies together to combat the problem, even if those agencies haven’t previously worked together.With the committee soon undergoing a transformation, Barney wants to ensure a smooth transition. He also wants to have open and honest discussions on what needs to be done to help those suffering from addiction and their families.“After identifying the obstacles, gaps and roadblocks regarding treatment in our community, the challenge then becomes to remove those roadblocks and fill those gaps,” the mayor said. “We need to eliminate the overdoses, and we need to make the transition from treatment into society seamless by helping individuals obtain the skills they need to make that transition.”