Southern Minnesota resources continue to spread awareness on opioid epidemic

The increase of the potent drug fentanyl continues to fuel the problem.
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 11:21 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Nearly 294,000 people live in the 11 counties in Minnesota’s south central region.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a recent study found there were 6.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in those counties between 2017 and 2019.

That number is the lowest in the state. Despite this, overall numbers for opioid overdoses in the state have only gone up.

“Access has been a big issue through the pandemic, which has contributed to people coming in with more advanced levels of illness then tend to be more ill when they come in for treatment,” said Dr. Tyler Oesterle, medical director at Fountain Centers in Mankato.

The increase of the potent drug fentanyl continues to fuel the problem as drug task forces continue their seizures and addiction centers in the area work toward creating a brighter future for those whose lives have been impacted by the drug.

“Our message is to have hope, I often joke that when I came into the program I was hopeless and have no hope,” House of Hope CEO and President Mark Johnson said. “And after being here and starting the workbook program, I was able to find hope again and find meaning to exist.”

The House of Hope has been around for 50 years as a medium-intensity residential and non-residential treatment program, with the goal of increasing the desire for ongoing recovery.

“What we do here has changed can’t even begin to tell you how many lives and again from a personal perspective it saved mine and I don’t know if there is anything more powerful than that,” Johnson said.

Another resource available through the Mayo Clinic Health System is the Fountain Centers located throughout the region. The organization has been helping people fight chemical dependency since 1974.

“Understand that this is an illness and that there are good treatments,” Oesterle said. “These treatments are available in these communities.”

Both Fountain Centers and House of Hope acknowledged that the first step toward recovery and treatment is admitting that you need help.