Opioid challenge will require cultural change

Good news arrived this week in the form of a grant to combat opioid abuse in Minot.

The Bush Foundation has awarded Minot a grant of $208,000 to develop strategies to address the opioid epidemic and create a regional hub for treatment and family services. The funds will help the Mayor’s Committee on Addiction in its comprehensive examination and implementation of local and regional efforts to stem the plague of opioid abuse.

The question of resources has been a primary one when it comes to this and other communities fighting the drug abuse problem. Funding and identifying effective strategies are probably the two greatest challenges.

However, to ever truly have a major impact on the challenge will require a cultural change. It starts at the top – and it is changing. Political and law enforcement leaders must adjust their perspectives on opioid abuse and see it for the multi-faceted threat that it is, and not just a question of character or criminal activity. Medical experts must better understand the effects of prescription opioids. Entire communities must accept that there will be an ample price tag attached to addressing the issue – and appreciate that the return on that investment will be even greater, in time.

Thankfully, many seem to understand the scope of the epidemic and are changing their perceptions and becoming more supportive of the holistic approach required to make any difference in a challenge this severe.

Still, little happens without funding.

Minot should be grateful for the support of the Bush Foundation and hope that it helps lead us to a comprehensive plan to address the situation.