Minnesota Sees More Drug Overdose Deaths, New Resource Launched to Fight 'Epidemic'

September 07, 2017 05:51 PM

Minnesota saw a 9.2 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, with more heroin deaths occuring in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota experiencing more methamphetamine deaths.

The state's health department reports 637 drug overdose deaths in 2016 compared to 583 deaths in 2015. The data comes from death certificates. 

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Prescription opioids are still the highest overdose killer in Minnesota. Breaking it down by region, greater Minnesota saw a decrease in prescription opioid overdoses and meth increased by 60 percent and heroin. 

RELATED: Doctors Write Fewer Opioid Perscriptions, But Epidemic Persists

Statewide, more infants are going through opioid withdrawal from birth.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehilnger said in a statement:

"The alarm is growing louder year after year as we continue to see the costly impact of 'diseases of despair,' such as chronic pain, depression, chemical dependency and suicide." 

RELATED: Minnesota Group Wants to Distribute Opioid Antidote Doses

He said at a press conference that 2016 saw 376 reported opioid deaths, which is up 12 percent.

Deaths from synthetic opioids such as fetanyl, the drug that killed superstar Prince, rose 80 percent from 2015. In 2016 there were 96 deaths from synthetic opioids.

RELATED: Study: Few Opioid-Addicted Youth Get Standard Treatment Medication

Often, he said these people are choosing opioids to "relieve pain, suffering and trauma."

He added that Minnesota remains the sixth lowest state in the nation for opioid deaths; however, Minnesota is seeing a racial disparity in these deaths.

RELATED: State AG Joins Nationwide Investigation into Rx Opioid Manufacturers

American Indians are six times more likely to die from overdose, and black people are twice as likely than whites in Minnesota.

"Minnesota must not tolerate this pattern anymore," he added. 

The health department is labeling opioid overdoses an "epidemic," which President Donald Trump did earlier this year.

RELATED: Trump Pledges US Will Beat Opioid Drug Epidemic

The department said it needs the best information available, and is launching an online dashboard, which provides these statistics as well as health and support resources.

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