Non-profit organizations offering help with Opioid overdose crisis

For the past decade there have been record high fatal opioid overdoses in Duluth. The Duluth Police Department say Fentanyl is a major contributor to fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

Jenn Villa, the Program Director at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment, says overdose prevention is a community effort.

“As a community we can do better if we educate ourselves on helping everyone in our community,” Villa said. “If we do better as a community, we’re going to thrive. So it’s a community issue. It’s not an individual issue. The best thing we can do for ourselves is education.”

Villa also said unfortunately we have surpassed the number of fatal overdoses in 2023 compared to last year.

“As of September 30th, we’ve had 36 fatal overdoses in Duluth. We’ve had 49 fatal overdoses in surrounding areas,” Villa said. “So that includes any fatal overdoses reported by Saint Louis County Sheriff’s Department, the Duluth Police Department, Carlton County, and then Superior.”

One non-profit organization, the Harm Reduction Sisters, is spreading awareness and educating people how to respond to an overdose.

Sue Purchase, the Founder and Executive Director of Harm Reduction Sisters, said a great first step is learning about Naloxone. Naloxone is a medication can help reverse a drug overdose before it becomes fatal.

“We’ve got an overdose crisis. We’ve got a drug supply that is so unsafe and telling people to just say no doesn’t work. And so the goal of harm reduction systems is to be responsive in immediately responsive to unmet needs, which includes naloxone distribution”

Purchase also said the Harm Reduction Sisters have resources on properly use test strips to see if opioids have been laced with fentanyl.

“There’s other supportive resources within the community,” Purchase said. “How can we create an environment where people feel safe and feel secure, rather than seeking out drugs to feel better, and numb that pain? Really listen to people, listen so that people will talk, because stigma kills.”

There are several non-profit organizations in the Twin Ports Area dedicated to helping reduce fatal and non-fatal overdoses. Here’s a list of several non-profit organizations helping people overcome opioid use:

Harm Reduction Sisters

Center of Alcohol and Drug Treatment

Minnesota Adult Teen Challenge

Human Development Center

Genesis Recovery Services

Also for other stories about Opioid use you can read more here.