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Minnesota saw record overdose deaths last year, driven by fentanyl

The state recorded 1,286 overdose deaths in 2021.

Minnesota saw record overdose deaths last year, with officials pointing to the synthetic opioid fentanyl as a primary factor.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, overdose deaths reached 1,286 in 2021, a 22% increase from the previous year. Of those deaths, 924 involved opioids, an increase of 35%.

Fentanyl was responsible for 834 of the opioid deaths.

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For the first time since 2014, the seven-county metro area saw a smaller increase in overdose deaths than the rest of the state, with deaths rising by 23% in Greater Minnesota and 20% in the metro.

“This increase in drug overdose deaths is alarming, but there are things we can do about it,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a statement.

“One important step is to expand programs that make it easier for people to access naloxone – a medication that can reverse overdoses and save lives.”

Of the overdose deaths involving opioids, fentanyl was involved in around 90%. Non-opioids drugs that contributed to the most overdoses last year include methamphetamine and cocaine, according to MDH.

Note: Some of Minnesota's 1,286 overdose deaths in 2021 involved more than one drug, hence the higher combined number in the chart above.

Note: Some of Minnesota's 1,286 overdose deaths in 2021 involved more than one drug, hence the higher combined number in the chart above.

Psychostimulants such as methamphetamine was involved in 454 deaths (up 34% from 2020), while cocaine was involved in 154 deaths (up 81% from 2020).

MDH pointed to resources available to prevent overdose deaths, including using fentanyl test strips and Naloxone. 

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