ST. CLOUD -- The abuse of prescription painkillers, the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine are leading to overdoses on a daily basis.

To help combat this issue, CentraCare has recently hired two new physicians who specialize in Addiction Medicine.

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Dr. Heather Bell and Dr. Kurt DeVine not only saw a rise in the opioid epidemic, but saw a need for better care for patients with substance abuse disorders.

Bell says there are not many healthcare organizations who specialize in this area and felt this was a great opportunity.

After we got addiction boarded we talked about working for a larger organization who had an addiction focus clinic to be that referral site. There isn't any addiction physicians north of the Twin Cities, so now to provide that access in greater Minnesota has been exciting.

DeVine and Bell previously worked together in Little Falls and decided to pursue additional training in addiction medicine to better serve their community.

DeVine says one main focus is making sure patients who come to their hospitals or emergency rooms for substance abuse have the help they need.

We work a lot with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Department of Human Services in communities throughout the state in helping them develop these programs. I think everyone in the state is moving in the direction to making sure that our hospitals and ER's have the protocols and systems set up so patients can get to where they need.

DeVine says statistics are showing substance abuse disorders can begin as early as middle school and only a small percentage of people who are addicted get the help they need.

Both DeVine and Bell say by eliminating barriers and recognizing these services are available, they hope to get more patients back on their feet and living a normal life.

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