Posted by Susan Stiles on May 03, 2018
The May 3 Rotary Club of Edina meeting was an Opioid Awareness Workshop for Rotarians and members of the public. Our club—along with Rotary District 5950 and the Rotary Clubs of Bloomington, Buffalo, Eden Prairie Noon, North Minneapolis and Rogers—sponsored the workshop. The event featured speakers from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, Hennepin County Sheriff's Department, Steve Rummler Hope Network, TRIA and Verde Technologies discussing all aspects of the opioid crisis. 
To watch a video of the workshop, go here
To read more about the event, click below...
Edina Rotary hosted area Rotary clubs and members of the public for a special meeting May 3. Josh Sprague planned and organized, along with Ann Platt and Sandy Schley, an inspirational and emotional workshop about the Opioid epidemic in our country. Josh provided a history of how the epidemic has mushroomed as a result of the medical community trying to control pain with over prescribing opioid pain killers from 2000—2010, which was the peak. As prescriptions and supplies have been more tightly regulated, the black market for synthetic opioids has grown and in particular, for fentanyl, which is extremely strong and lethal.
Attendance included members from the following clubs because they, along with Edina Rotary, have made monetary contributions to raising local public awareness: Bloomington, Buffalo, Eden Prairie Noon, North Minneapolis and Rogers. Today, the presentation focused on Phase 3 of the effort that started in 2014—unveiling the online curriculum. Lexi Reed Holtum, Executive Director for the Steve Rummler Hope Network, shared her personal story and the history of the founding of the Steve Rummler Hope Network. Lexi was engaging, compassionate and very informative. Steve Rummler was her fiancée, a recovered addict who lapsed and died in 2014 of an opioid overdose. Opioid addiction/overdose has no wiggle room, which is why death is so common. We all took an awareness quiz about the impact of this epidemic and the mind-boggling number of deaths. This epidemic has no boundaries and has touched so many of us. During the course of the workshop, brave members of the audience openly shared their personal stories. It was noted with positive acknowledgement that President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a National Public Health Emergency.  

The next exercise that Lexi instructed us on was in the Discussion Guide distributed on the tables. There are eight questions in the Community Organizer section that she assigned to tables throughout the room. Tables took time to discuss and then share their thoughts with the group. Lexi shared videos and information on the website that included testimonials, which included Prince’s cousin, Chazz Smith, who was in attendance at the meeting! You can find more information on the website using these links: and (documentary on YouTube).

The intent of the videos and curriculum that we financially supported in this Phase 3 is to become ambassadors, educate communities and encourage civic and community engagement.

The workshop included four additional speakers who provided information from different perspectives around how to take control and manage this epidemic.
Dr. Stephen Delisi, with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, discussed addiction and treatment. His message was around understanding the chemistry of the brain and the different phases of addictions that includes the reward center, withdrawal effects and the preoccupation and craving for more. It’s a vicious cycle.  He shared the use of Narcan to interfere with overdosing and that this is what first responders carry and use. He noted that fentanyl is immune to Narcan and this is what keeps him awake at night.
Dr. Peter Stiles, no relation to me, is the son of past Bloomington Rotary Club President Don Stiles, and spoke about pain management and how hard it is to diagnose and treat.  He works in the Pain Center at TRIA. He noted that if someone lives in constant pain they become “good” at it and become more insensitive to pain the longer they are on a synthetic opioid treatment. Dr. Stiles brought up gatekeepers to prescription pain killers and one of them being insurance companies and what they will or will not approve. Pharmaceutical companies were pushing the use of these drugs while use grew exponentially from 2000 to 2010. The goal for the medical community is to find a safe, sustainable and effective pain management protocol for their patients. This includes functional and physical therapy and using integrative medicine that includes behavioral health, multi medicine therapy and addiction medicine.
Sheriff Richard Stanek of Hennepin County shared statistics around the number of deaths in Hennepin County in 2017—175 between the ages of 16 and 98. There has been a 59 percent increase in opioid deaths. He discussed the issue around medicine disposal options and why pharmacies don’t take them back. There was also discussion around the quantity that gets prescribed and what happens to the left overs that sit in a medicine cabinet at risk for being taken by friends or family members. All the police and first responders now carry Naloxone as it saves lives. Prescription is not needed. “No shame, no blame." Aug. 7, 2018 is National Night for med bags. Police stations and fire departments have medicine disposal bins for public use.
Rob Reynolds with Verde Technologies also presented. He was in law enforcement for 31 years and now works for a company that specializes in a disposal solution for medicines. His company’s bag, Deterra, is easy to use. Simply place the medicine into the bag, add water and the medicine is deactivated and can be garbaged. This is called adsorption. Bags were available for all attendees on their way out of the workshop, compliments of Josh.

After each of the panelists spoke, there was a question-and-answer session. Ann Platt ended with closing remarks and we all left to enjoy the start of a lovely weekend in Minnesota!