While meth is still the illegal drug of choice among many South Dakotans, opioid addiction and deaths are on the rise.
Curbing opioid abuse and reducing the number of deaths will be the driving force behind some decisions facing South Dakota lawmakers in the 2019 session.
Some ideas are already being tossed around.
One comes from the South Dakota Chiropractors Association.
The group would like to see some patients be required to seek alternative pain treatments before automatically being prescribed opioids.
Another lawmaker wants to change involuntary commitment laws, making it easier for families to get their loved ones help, who resist getting treatment for addiction.
There could be proposals to enhance penalties in regard to certain drugs and distribution.
Minnesota currently has a third degree murder charge for dealers accused of supplying the drugs in overdose deaths.
The most recent numbers from the State Department of Health on overdose deaths are from 2017. While there were 74 drug overdose deaths that year, eight of those deaths were from illegal opioid drugs, that’s up from zero five years ago.
However, officials are seeing big increases in those numbers in 2018.
We’re already 50 percent over what we were for all of last year, just in Minnehaha County alone,” U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons said.
So far this year in Minnehaha County there have been at least 17 overdose deaths, a majority of those were opioid or fentanyl related.
At the current rate, U.S. Attorney Parsons expects the number of overdose deaths in South Dakota in 2018 to end up double over last year.
On our KELO debate at 7:00p.m. CT Tuesday we are asking our candidates for governor how they plan to address the opioid epidemic in South Dakota.
Find more information on the opioid crisis in South Dakota online.