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Created On Monday, 20, February 2017
Modified On Monday, 12, April 2021

Opioid Treatment in North Dakota

Opioid addiction is no small problem in North Dakota. Because of this, there are many different opioid treatment facilities in North Dakota available for those seeking help. But this can also be overwhelming to someone who is looking for help.

Usually, people do not plan to get treatment for opioid addiction for months in advance. Crisis and intervention are the most common catalysts to someone getting into rehab. Once it’s established that treatment is needed, the window is usually narrow for their cooperation. The person who struggles with addiction may change their mind, or something tragic can happen within a matter of hours. Knowing about the different treatment types in advance can save vital time when a crisis occurs and prevent choosing a facility or program that isn’t a good fit. This can mean the difference between recovery and relapse.

Many of the newer programs are heavily utilizing opioid medications as a replacement for the opioids the person was illegally consuming. It is even being advised that the patient stays on these drugs for life, as though the possibility of getting off opioids completely is considered impossible. It’s entirely possible and happens every day in treatment programs that don’t use substitute narcotics to treat addiction. These medication-focused programs are a form of harm-reduction rather than recovery. They were born out of a need to reduce the overdose death rates in heavily hit areas where heroin and fentanyl are prolific. And while substitute medication and programs like these reduce overdose and crime rates, they don’t get people off drugs, so they cannot be advised.

Another form of treatment that has helped many people recover completely from opioid addiction is traditional programs. Traditional programs include the common twelve-step approach, which was developed decades ago by Alcoholics Anonymous. Most of these programs are drug-free and if they do use medications, only do so during the detox portion of the program to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Any unnecessary medications would then be discontinued before they joined the rest of the patients on the program.

Perhaps the most effective treatment programs for opioid addiction are the holistic treatment programs. Holistic programs use no unnecessary medication and focus on health and nutrition to build the body back up after addiction. They also utilize counseling targeted at resolving the underlying reasons why people use drugs. This may take longer and be more intensive than other forms of treatment, but is particularly useful when it comes to opioid addiction. Holistic programs are often the last resort for people after trying the different types and finding that they can only recover by being drug-free.

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North Dakota Opioid Possession Penalties

All states regulate the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. North Dakota classifies opioids like heroin as CDS, and also the compounds used to manufacture them. Illegally making or selling CDS carries different penalties.

North Dakota divides opioids into five “Schedules.” Schedule I lists the most dangerous opioids, like heroin, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and likelihood of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses. Examples of these include Vicodin, codeine, Percocet, and many more.

It is a class C felony to possess opioids without a valid medical prescription in North Dakota. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, or both. This varies depending upon the schedule of the opioid, the amount, and the person’s criminal history.

It is a class B felony to possess CDS on or within 1,000 feet of school property (including daycare and preschool facilities). Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to ten years in prison, or both.

North Dakota Opioid Statistics

In the U.S., there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths reported in 2018, 4.1% fewer deaths than in 2017.

  • The age-adjusted rate declined by 4.6% to 20.7 per 100,000 standard population. The decline followed an increasing trend in the rate from 6.1 in 1999 to 21.7 in 2017.
  • Opioids were involved in 46,802 (a rate of 14.6) overdose deaths in 2018—nearly 70% of all overdose deaths.
  • Deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (including fentanyl and fentanyl analogs) continued to rise with more than 28,400 (a rate of 9.9) overdose deaths in 2018.
  • The number of deaths involving prescription opioids declined to 14,975 (a rate of 4.6) in 2018, and those involving heroin dropped to 14,996 (a rate of 4.7).

In North Dakota, about half of the 70 reported drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2018—a total of 36 fatalities (and a rate of 5.2). In 2018, North Dakota providers wrote 37.4 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions.

In North Dakota, an annual average of about 1,000 individuals aged 12 or older (0.21% of all individuals in this age group) in 2014–2015 had used heroin in the past year. The annual average percentage in 2014–2015 was lower than the annual average percentage in 2013–2014.