One Minnesota attorney said the prospect of time in jail is often not enough to stop the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in his community.
“I can lock these guys up all day long, but it’s a public health issue,” said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.
Together with other prosecutors, Orput is pledging to work together with law enforcement and other service agencies to fight the criminal effects of prescription drug abuse. They formed the East Metro Crime Prevention Coalition and will focus on prescription drug abuse, which is the third-leading cause of people seeking addiction treatment in Minnesota.
Prosecutors in neighboring Dakota County saw a 17 percent increase in adults committing felonies directly linked to prescription drugs. In Dakota County, 75 people were charged with felonies.
“The vast majority of these cases are not reported,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, who believes that the numbers do not tell the complete story.
The members of the newly-formed Coalition want to educate law enforcement and the general public, and raise awareness about the importance of receiving quality addiction treatment services.