Minnesota Sen. Amy Klo­buchar, speaking to a group of about 30 people at the Chippewa County Courthouse assembly room in Montevideo on Satur­day morning, said “we have an epidemic in our country.”

The epidemic Klobuchar referred to is the increasing drug addiction caused by the illegal possession and use of prescription drugs.

Klobuchar shared an update on her bipartisan legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

“We’re trying to get as strict a rules in place as we can. We’re passing the bill, but there’s more we’re going to have to do.”

The bill includes Klobuchar’s provision to combat drug abuse by enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs.

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects drug abuse can have on families in Minnesota and across the country,” said Klobuchar in an earlier press release. “We must spare no effort to reverse this deadly trend. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to passing this critical bipartisan legislation and giving communities the tools they need to combat drug abuse.”

“We had our first recognizable case of morphine overdose in 2007. We’ve seen a steady string of overdoses in our community,” said Montevideo Police Chief Adam Christopher. “We’re not seeing a lot of heroin (in this area) yet.”

Christopher was referring to the fact that dependence on prescription drugs can lead to heroin addiction.

Doctors and mental health care professionals at the meeting concurred that prescription drugs are necessary to provide relief to patients, but they can cause dependency on the meds.

“They (prescription drug dependents) develop skills to get these pain medicines,” said Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital Dr. Nick Krueger.

Doctors have no way of knowing that prescriptions they write can end up in the wrong hands.

Marti Paulson, director of health and intake services at Project Turnabout in Granite Falls, said there is an overflow for beds at Project Turnabout for patients with chemical dependencies. “The behaviors we see are not taught in medical schools.

Klobuchar said education of families about the dangers of prescription drug addiction if very important.

“This has been incredibly helpful. I really appreciate it,” Klobuchar told her audience in closing.