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One person has died and eight others overdosed in a span of 24 hours in the St. Cloud metro.

The Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force on Friday said it believes the overdoses are from fentanyl that was mixed with other narcotics. 

No other details about the nine drug overdoses were released. The task force is investigating them and is asking for anyone with information on the overdoses to contact them at 320-345-4238.

The task force also used these incidents to remind people about the presence of fentanyl in the community, noting it is a "significant drug of abuse throughout the State of Minnesota and in the St. Cloud area."

Related [Jan. 22]: 3 arrested following fentanyl bust in St. Cloud

Fentanyl, which is available by prescription and is illicitly manufactured, is a synthetic opioid that depresses the central nervous and respiratory system and can be fatal. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says the drug is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Because fentanyl is so much stronger, only a few grains of the drug can be lethal. It's widely available so it's often added to other drugs to boost profits. And sometimes fentanyl is added to drugs unbeknownst to the drug user, 

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is driving the increase in overdoses seen in Minnesota and across the United States in recent years, MDH said. Nonfatal overdoses from synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, went up 86% from 2019 to 2020 in Minnesota. And synthetic opioids were responsible for more than eight in every 10 of the 654 opioid-involved overdose deaths in 2020. (This is the most recent data available.)

Also in 2020, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said there was a "significant increase" in counterfeit pills in the state, which caused a "significant number" of fatal overdoses because they were laced with fentanyl. 

There are fentanyl test strips that can detect the presence of fentanyl in a drug prior to using it. They are not illegal in Minnesota, and you can get them here

Naloxone can also be used to reverse an overdose caused by fentanyl — it's not naloxone resistant but in some cases, a person overdosing may need more than one dose for it to work, MDH says.

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