Minnesota health officials say drug overdose deaths increased sharply in the state last year during the pandemic, and that it underscores the need for more resources addressing the issue.
According to the Minnesota Department Of Health, 1,008 people in Minnesota died of an overdose in 2020, that’s up from 792 in 2019 — a 27% increase.
Health officials say the data shows that overdose numbers began to surge in March, when the pandemic began in Minnesota and the rest of the country.
About half of the overdose deaths in 2020 involved synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
Overdoses linked to commonly-prescribed opioids, like oxycodone and morphine, increased in 2020 by 50%, accounting for about 200 deaths. It follows two years of declines.
Increases to non-opioid drug deaths also occurred
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the staggering number of drug overdose deaths shows the need to amplify our prevention efforts and strengthen the ability of communities to support people and connect them with services.
Some efforts that are being discussed include increasing access to the overdose-preventing drug naloxone, and helping Minnestoans get the care they need.
For those who are suffering, help is available. The University of Minnesota has a list of resources on their website, called Support for Addiction Recovery during COVID-19.
The Minnesota Department of Health also launched a new podcast series, called “Stories from the Field” that addresses the evolving opioid epidemic.
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