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Treatment over trial; Government leaders look to avoid increasing number of overdoses

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MINNESOTA—New reports show opioid deaths in Minnesota jumped 18 percent in 2016, that's 395 people killed by overdoses in the state.

Just Wednesday morning, Governor Mark Dayton proposed a plan that would make opioid manufacturers help fund addiction treatment every time they make a pill.

The governor says this "Penny-a-Pill" program would raise about $20 million a year, but some question if it's enough to battle the region's devastating epidemic.

Since getting the job in 1998, Cass County Captain Jesse Jahner has seen the opioid crisis inflate.

"People are able to find these substances and get them and have them delivered right to their door, which we maybe didn't necessarily see a couple years ago," said Captain Jesse Jahner, Cass County Sheriff's Office.

Between 2001 and 2016, the country has lost about $1 trillion to the opioid epidemic, that's according to Altarum a non-profit health research group.

This is taking into account the cost of health care, money spent on locking people up and how much productivity is lost from people who become addicts.

"Obviously we can't just arrest our way out of this," said Capt. Jahner.

The President recently announced plans to dedicate $13-billion federal dollars to addiction treatment and relief.

While it certainly helps, Cass County's jail administrator, Andrew Frobig, says it takes more than money to solve this growing problem.

"There's a lack of other alternatives. At least there has been historically. When we talk about people who fall through the cracks, the jail is essentially the bottom of that hole," said Forbig.

In the recent years, he says they had to start stocking Narcan for inmates who overdose.

With more addicts coming in every day, they say the jail is sort of becoming a hospital.

"I see the jail's role in all this as really being an opportunity for intervention," said Frobig.

With any community, he says the only way to solve the crisis is by getting all law departments, health groups, faith communities and other resources to tackle it together.

"This is not going to be a government solved thing, this is going to be a community effort that solves this problem. And so far, just like we always have in this area, all the signs are pointed to the fact that we're all working very well together," said Frobig.

He sees this crisis unfold every day in Fargo and sees the relief improve each day.

Andrew Frobig says opioid addiction does not discriminate in his jail, he sees this affect all groups, races and communities in the region.

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