MDH launching podcast to connect with people battling addiction

Among the unintended consequences of lockdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has been a spike in drug addiction.

But a new project from the Minnesota Department of Health hopes to connect people with support in a different form.

If you’re going to reach people in new ways, you need to get creative. That’s the guiding principle behind a new addiction-focused podcast from the Minnesota Department of Health.

The podcast is taking shape to debut later this month as the Minnesota Department of Health takes a creative approach to battling rising overdoses in the state.

"When I got out into the community, what I found out was we are doing opioids, we just don’t call them opioids," said Community Health Strategist Clarence Jones with the Hue-MAN Partnership.

The most recent numbers show Minnesota drug overdose deaths increased sharply in the first half of 2020 compared to the year before. They’re hoping these five pilot podcasts "Stories from the Field" might help.

Episode one includes Pearl Evans who works for MDH but also has battled her own heroin addiction.

"Often when you have these conversations you hear from a clinical or academic perspective, and there is a disconnect," explained Evans. "But my story is raw my story is real."

It also features community outreach partners doing ground work every day.

"There’s a lot of stigma associated with using alcohol and drugs in our community; in fact, if you use opioids there’s even more stigma," said Yussuf Shafie with Alliance Wellness Center.

Other episodes will include views from a tribal perspective, and the life-saving impacts of Narcan. The hope is that messages of hope and help will reach a wider audience and save lives.

"Even someone who is a user doesn’t listen to this podcast," explained Julie Bartkey with MDH, "maybe their parents will, maybe a friend will, it’s just connecting to somebody who can then connect with somebody else who might need help."