New Podcast On MN Opioid Epidemic

The MN health department tackles the opioid epidemic and hopes to shed a light on how the pandemic is impacting the problem with their new podcast, “Stories From The Field,” reports Heather Brown and Shayla Reaves (3:18). WCCO 4 News - April 16, 2021

Video Transcript

SHAYLA REAVES: The Minnesota Department of Health has launched a new podcast series, "Stories From The Field."

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JASE ROE: I believe that's kind of what started this whole-- this whole crisis and started to get the ball rolling was this over prescribing of opioids to our community.

HEATHER BROWN: The podcast is aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic. Joining us live this morning on Skype to talk more about it is Jase Roe, a case manager at Homeward Bound. Thanks so much for being with us today.

JASE ROE: Thank you for having me.

HEATHER BROWN: Yeah, so we know you are part of this podcast here, along with two other health professionals. Talk to us a little bit about the podcast. How did you get involved? What is it about?

JASE ROE: I got involved, but I was contacted by one of the doctors in the field that works with the community. And he contacted me and asked me to be part of this series because he knows about my past. I've had my past dealings with opioids. I was in my own addiction for well over 25 years. And I was a daily IV drug user and used opiates.

SHAYLA REAVES: How is the opioid epidemic affecting the Native American community, specifically?

JASE ROE: You know, our community is hit hard. We are seven times more likely to OD than our white counterparts. So we have a real issue and a crisis on our hands. It's affected my community by our unsheltered. However unsheltered, relatives are using daily IV opiate users. And so it's-- it's really a big crisis at this time.

HEATHER BROWN: Now, Jason-- Jase, as you mentioned, you have struggled yourself with addiction, but have now sort of used that experience to be there at Homeward Bound. Tell us a little bit about Homeward Bound and what you do there.

JASE ROE: Homeward Bound is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week shelter for Native Americans. It's Native American culturally based. So we have 50 beds. We have 30 beds for men, 20 beds for women. And our staff is mainly Native American.

I think there's something to be said when a Native American can sit across from another Native American, and I can say, hey, I've been there, I've done that, and I can help you. How can I help you, you know?

And that's the main thing that we stress on. We like to talk to our clients, our relatives, and ask them what they would like and where they would like to go because we'll have a better success rate by talking to them, by seeing them as a person first instead of a client. And we just treat them like relatives because they are. They're our relatives. We're all related.

SHAYLA REAVES: In your opinion, what needs to be done to stop the opioid crisis?

JASE ROE: You know, what can be done? I don't have the answers. But what-- in my opinion, would be more low-barrier housing, programs where people can-- who use drugs, people who use drugs-- can use outside of the home, come back into their housing, and not be asked to leave, not be kicked out on the street because they're self-medicating.

I think there needs to be more education around [? MAT ?] programs. So there needs to be more education around Narcan and taking away stigma from people who are in the cycle of addiction because we say that they're are relatives. Well, why are we treating with a different way than we would our sister, our uncle, our mother, our-- you know, somebody that we're related to?

HEATHER BROWN: Jase, Jase, thank you so much for your work, and thank you for sharing your story with us. We appreciate it.

JASE ROE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

HEATHER BROWN: Yeah. And you can go to wcco.com/links to check out this podcast series. It's called "Stories From The Field."