Duluth man hopes to target opioid addiction in honor of his brot - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Duluth man hopes to target opioid addiction in honor of his brother

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Dan Saker said he and his brother William had a lot in common.

"A lot of people thought we were twins," he said.

That includes their struggles.

"We suffered a lifetime diction and it all stems from the mental illness factor," he said. 

But while Dan is continuing the battle, his brother's was cut short.

Investigators found 50-year-old William Saker's body in a sewer on the Duluth Lakewalk in September. He had been missing since March 17.

"I know my brother, I know it was due to addiction," Dan said.

Dan said police haven't been able to determine an exact cause of death, but based on their shared struggles, he has his own idea.

"I believe brother Bill would still be alive if there were more outreach programs," he said. 

Now Dan hopes his story can be a wake up call for the city to provide those programs and his pain has become his motivation to help others.

First speaking up at a opioid roundtable with Klobuchar's staff he said he was tired of hearing about proposed solutions but not seeing action.

Since then he's worked with mental health professionals like Troy Otterson and St. Louis County social services supervisor Greg Anderson to address some of those gaps.

"Guys like Dan who are in recovery who know what it's like to both be addicted and to recover and to be out there and try to maintain it," Otterson said. "These are some of our best fighters out there on the streets."

Otterson helped Dan overcome his addiction and now he said Dan is using his experience to refer others to his services.

Still Anderson said more needs to be done to help people avoid relapse.

"Individuals come out of treatment, they go to outpatient and come back into the community and they struggle," he said.

With this partnership, the three are hoping to fill that gap, fight the stigma and provide mental illness services.

"I know about this, I've lived it, I've been homeless, I've given up on life," he said.

Those working to fight addiction in St. Louis County say opioid overdose deaths are on pace to overtake last year's numbers.

According to statistics from the county, in the past 5 years there have been 121 opioid overdose deaths in St. Louis County. In the five years before then, there wasn't a single recorded drug overdose death.

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