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When Opioid Addictions Turn Violent

This week, an alarming story made national headlines. It signified a dangerous (and often undiscussed) component of America’s opioid crisis. Specifically, the lengths people may go to get their medications and how violence is working its way in to this crippling epidemic.


The story in question took place in Buffalo, Minnesota. Apparently, just last week an armed gunman opened fire at a local health clinic there; killing one person and leaving an additional four people injured. The root of the attack does appear to be tied to an opioid addiction. It is alleged that the gunman, 67-year-old Gregory Ulrich, stormed the clinic is search of more meds to feed his destructive habit.


Thankfully he was quickly apprehended before more violence could occur, but investigators quickly discovered his history with painkillers. After questioning Ulrich and pulling together evidence found at the scene, local police were able to pull together a potential theory for the crime.


“Ulrich has a dependency on opioid-style pain medications and was upset that his legal supply had been stopped,” local Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Bailey told the press shortly after the attack. “We also believe that Ulrich’s dependency on pain medication is the driving force behind his assault which resulted in the death of Lindsay Overbay and multiple serious injuries to others.”


And this crime could have actually been much, much worse. Authorities later found pipe bombs in his possession and a clear agenda to cause serious carnage to the facility. A background check later revealed that Ulrich began his habit in 2016 after a serious back injury. He was later admitted to the hospital for an overdose, which led to the cancellation of his prescription.


The sad truth is, addictions and violence are not that uncommon of a mixture. We have all heard the horror stories about drug deal murders and armed robberies to score narcotics money. But, as this case points out, aggressive criminal behavior can seep its way into a prescription painkiller dependency just as easily.


And the more addictive the substance, the greater lengths someone may go to obtain it. This can include theft, attacks and, tragically, murder, if necessary. We are certainly grateful that more of these types of stories aren’t making the front page. But these behaviors do exist and now we can clearly see that lives lost to the opioid crisis go far beyond fatal overdoses.


If you or someone you care about is battling a painkiller dependency, please reach out before things escalate into a dangerous situation.