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Hazelden changes policy to tackle prescription drug abuse crisis

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Hazelden, one of the country's leading addiction treatment facilities based in Minnesota, is changing its widely recognized policy in response to a dramatic increase in prescription drug abuse.

KARE 11 reports adults seeking treatment at Hazelden for prescription drug abuse has climbed from 19 percent in 2001 to 30 percent in 2011.

For teens and young adults, the number rises from 15 percent in 2001 to 41 percent in 2011.

Carol Falkowsi has been tracking drug abuse in Minnesota for the last three decades. She tells KARE 11 that the state hasn't seen this kind of trend with any other drug.

The epidemic has prompted Hazelden to change their approach. Previously, addicts were not prescribed any medication during treatment. Now, the center will begin prescribing drugs like Suboxone and Vivitrol to help wean addicts off their prescription drug dependencies.

From 2005 to 2011, prescriptions for painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone increased 72 percent statewide. "Supply is a key ingredient in any drug epidemic," Falkowsi said in an earlier report.

The Pioneer Press gives a detailed look at how Minnesota health care providers are trying to relieve pain with prescription medication without contributing to the growing epidemic of abuse.

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