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Rep. Pete Stauber combats opioid crisis during visit to the Northland

DULUTH, MN — Leaders in Washington D.C. are leading a push to put an end to the opioid crisis, and they’re focusing their attention in the Northland.

Congressman Pete Stauber visited with local experts on the issue Monday, bringing with him two representatives from our nation’s capital.

“Rural health has some challenges that are different than metro areas,” Stauber said.

Having been a Duluth police officer in his former career, Stauber says he understands the importance of putting the crisis to an end.

“I’ve seen it. I’ve dealt with it,” Stauber said. “I’ve looked at the family members in the eye and have given death notifications.”

That’s why on Monday, Stauber invited Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky to Minnesota to see the challenges for themselves.

“It’s good for them to see it,” Stauber said. “Good for them to hear from the experts what we need.”

The group visited the Duluth Center for Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facility and the Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet, getting a read on the impact opioid use and rural health care are having here in the area.

“This is an area where its been on fire for decades with regard to the drug crisis, particularly opioids,” Hargan said.

Speaking to both local law enforcement and health care professionals Monday, officials say both sides need to work together.

“This is not a regular health crisis,” Hargan said. “This is an area that has behavioral health implications that really deals with law enforcement.”

Three years of declining life expectancy numbers in the country due to drug overdoses.

“That’s a terrible thing,” Hargan said. “It’s something that we’re going to be dealing with for decades.”

Officials acknowledge it’s an uphill battle, but they say they’re up for the challenge.

“When we go back we have to advocate for what we heard today,” Stauber said.

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Gamiel Hall

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