Lawmakers, advocates raise awareness about opioid addiction at Capitol

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Lawmakers, advocates and other Minnesotans who have been affected by opioid addiction gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol Tuesday to raise awareness about the dangers of opioids and urge support for legislation that would address prescription painkiller abuse.

On Tuesday morning, legislators from the House and the Senate announced the Opioid Reform Act – a bipartisan bill they say will hold opioid manufacturers responsible for the state’s opioid crisis.

“Since 2000, deaths from opioid overdoses have increased in Minnesota by 430 percent,” Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said in a statement. “Eighty percent of those addicted to heroin start out on prescription pain medications. While the makers of these prescription painkillers are making billions in profits, Minnesotans are dying and our public health system is overwhelmed by the need for prevention, treatment and recovery.”
From Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 in 2016, 144 people died from overdoses in Hennepin County, Sheriff Richard Stanek said at the press conference.

More people die from drug overdoses than car accidents,” Attorney General Lori Swanson said.

The announcement was part of the daylong event, Opioid Awareness on the Hill. At 3 p.m., lawmakers will join families affected by opioid addiction will be at the Capitol Rotunda to raise public awareness about the dangers of opioids and prescriptions painkillers. They will be joined by families affected by opioid addiction, who will share their stories.