- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The number of fatal drug overdoses in North Dakota has dropped slightly since a deadly peak in 2016, a decline one health official attributes to a state overdose prevention campaign.

North Dakota introduced the Recovery Reinvented Program in 2017 and began distributing naloxone - a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose - statewide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows overdose deaths in North Dakota declined from 77 in 2016 to 68 in 2017, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Pam Sagness, director of the Division of Behavioral Health for the North Dakota Department of Human Services, said she hopes the CDC numbers mean the state “has turned a corner.”

“This is really kind of like the first data point that we’re getting that speaks to some of those efforts,” Sagness said. But she cautioned that the battle is far from won, and that the state will continue to use federal grants and other funds to further overdose prevention efforts.

The legislature has signaled its support for the overdose prevention campaign.

Last month, the Senate passed a bill to provide $4.5 million to expand the Recovery Reinvented Program.

Another bill would create a drug fatalities review panel to examine overdose deaths and find gaps in services.

“What it would do is get at the root cause, was this death preventable? And if so, are there some system changes we could make so we wouldn’t have that happen again,” Sagness said.

The House is reviewing both measures.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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