Opinion

Walt Lamar: Minnesota tribes combat prescription drug abuse





"Sometimes when you make a prediction, you hope that you're wrong. More than a year ago, I sounded a warning that prescription painkiller addiction, combined with an uptick in Mexican heroin traffic, was going to result in more suffering in our tribal communities. Even though we saw it coming, it's with a heavy heart that we have been reading about this dual problem resulting in overdoses, arrests and child endangerment among the tribal nations of Minnesota.

According to a recent threat assessment, prescription drug trafficking has been a growing problem on tribal lands. Both the White Earth and Red Lake nations have declared public health emergencies related to prescription drug abuse. In 2011, prescription drugs were involved in 14.4% of drug arrests, up from 4.5 percent seven years before.

Prescription drug abuse drives opiate addicts to use whatever they can get, and heroin is chemically similar to morphine or oxycodone. Not only are the prescription pills expensive, pharmaceutical companies recently altered prescription formulas to minimize the euphoric sensations that addicts crave. On the other hand, the inexpensive heroin distributed from Twin Cities dealers is said to be the purest—and most lethal—in the country."

Get the Story:
Walt Lamar: Minnesota Tribes See Prescription Drug Use Leading to Heroin Addiction (Indian Country Today 12/6)