Skip to main content

MDH reports sharp rise in drug overdose deaths during pandemic

More than 1,000 people died of a drug overdose in MN last year.

More than 1,000 people died of a drug overdose in Minnesota last year, which represents a 27% increase compared to the year prior. 

According to preliminary figures from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), there was a sharp increase drug overdose deaths starting in March 2020 compared to March 2019, coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This trend continued throughout 2020, with the number of overdose deaths recorded each month coming in higher than the year before.

All told, 1,008 people died from an overdose in the state last year.

“The year has been unprecedented in so many ways," said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcom in a news release, "and 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.”

The number of drug overdose deaths rose throughout the state, though figures show a "significantly larger increase" in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area compared to Greater Minnesota.

Overdoses deaths among those aged 25-34 reached 274 last year. That's the highest figure among all age groups, and an increase of 99 deaths compared to 2019.

MDH said these numbers are preliminary, and while they are indicative of what happened, may change when the data is finalized.

Fentanyl a significant factor

Opioid-involved overdoses rose 59%, accounting for 654 deaths in 2020.  Synthetic opioids - which include fentanyl and fentanyl analogues - were responsible for more than eight in every 10 overdose deaths linked to opioids. There were 539 such deaths in 2020, up from 298 the year prior.

MDH also noted a 53% increase in the number of deaths involving commonly prescribed opioids, such as:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (Percocet)
  • Morphine
  • Methadone

This is a reversal from 2018 and 2019, which saw deaths linked to commonly prescribed opioids decline.

The New York Times recently reported on the rise in overdose deaths nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The story noted a number of potential factors sparked by the pandemic, including the fear and stress related to job loss or lockdowns, the closure of many treatment or drop-in centers, and worsened access to life-saving treatments such as naloxone.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 6.44.11 PM

Standoff in Prior Lake: Man assaulted officer, broke into home

The suspect allegedly assault an officer outside Kwik Trip, fled and broke into a home.

snow - 12-10-21 - Joe Nelson - 5

Accumulating snow possible in Twin Cities next week

The storm system could arrive in the Tuesday-Wednesday timeframe.

Target store snow

With Black Friday barely underway, Target reveals Cyber Monday deals

Plans for the two-day sale were revealed Friday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 9.37.25 AM

Man waves replica assault weapon at drivers in downtown Minneapolis

The alarming incident was spotted by the new MPD chief, Brian O'Hara.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 9.29.58 AM

Extremely drunk driver arrested in Chaska

The driver was more than four times the legal limit.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 8.21.21 AM

Stillwater police looking for suspect who stole vehicle with 1-year-old inside

The suspect abandoned the vehicle with the child still inside just 5 minutes after the theft.

Screen Shot 2022-11-23 at 5.01.34 PM

Suspected Bloomington restaurant killer arrested in Oklahoma

The 47-year-old Texas man was arrested around 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Screen Shot 2022-11-24 at 9.16.39 AM

Minnetonka woman, 23, ID'd as victim killed in Minneapolis crash

The fatal crash happened near the Minneapolis Convention Center on Nov. 21.

canada-goose-g304751a8f_1280

More than 100 geese, ducks found dead on partially frozen MN lake

The discovery was made in Waseca at the weekend.

e-bike

After losing sponsor, advocates fear Minneapolis' Nice Ride could shut down

They are calling on the city to provide financial support till a new sponsor is found.

Screen Shot 2022-11-23 at 3.32.46 PM

Colleen Lindstrom announces departure from MyTalk radio show

Lindstrom's last broadcast on the long-running show will be Dec. 9.

Related

hydrocodon-DEA

Nonfatal drug overdoses continued to increase during COVID-19 pandemic

They mirrored the trend of fatal overdoses seen during 2020.

hydrocodon-DEA

Drug overdose deaths up 31% in the first half of 2020

Overdose deaths started to increase sharply in March, which coincides with the state-ordered lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic.

fentanyl

Drug overdose deaths increased by 20 percent last year after declining in 2018

Preliminary data show a substantial increase in overdose deaths, especially among synthetic opioids and psychostimulant drugs.

pixabay-pain-pills

St. Paul police report 7 suspected overdoses in 24 hours

The department reported that two of the suspected overdoses were fatal.

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.01.36 AM

Overdose deaths involving opioids, other drugs fell in MN last year

It's welcome news, but health officials say overdose rates are still at historic highs.

fentanyl

Minnesota saw record overdose deaths last year, driven by fentanyl

The state recorded 1,286 overdose deaths in 2021.

pixabay-pain-pills

Bill would make drug companies pay millions for opioid crisis

Manufacturers and wholesalers would be responsible for $20 million annually.