Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Minnesota's drug problem got even worse in 2016

Drug overdose deaths shot up last year, a rise driven by the use of dangerous opioids.
Author:

Drug overdose deaths in Minnesota continued to spike at a worrying rate in 2016.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) confirmed on Thursday that 637 people died from drug overdoses in the state last year, a 9.2 percent rise over 2015 when 583 people died.

It continues what the MDH calls an "alarming trend" that has seen Minnesota's overdose deaths increase sixfold since 2000.

Heroin deaths proved particularly common in the Twin Cities, while methamphetamine deaths are on the rise in Greater Minnesota.

"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,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

Minnesota is not immune from the opioid crisis sweeping the nation, with opioids involved in 376 deaths last year, a 12 percent rise over 2015.

Most of these deaths, 186 in total, resulted from overdoses of prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

But an even more shocking figure is that there was an 80 percent rise in the number of people who lost their lives after overdosing on "synthetic" opioids.

Ninety-six people died after taking these drugs, with 85 – including Minnesota music legend Prince – dying after overdosing on the powerful opioid fentanyl.

The 376 opioid deaths doesn't even include heroin – itself an opioid – which was responsible for 142 deaths in Minnesota last year.

Elsewhere, 127 deaths were caused by "psychostimulants" including meth, 96 from benzodiazepines, and 39 from cocaine.

Of the 637 deaths, 400 of them happened in the Twin Cities metro area, with the remaining 237 in Greater Minnesota. 

America's opioid problem

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that of the 52,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2015, 33,000 were from opioids including prescription painkillers and heroin.

The Economist reports that the opioid epidemic had its roots in the explosive growth of prescription painkillers for two decades.

Since 1991, the number of opioid prescriptions (sold under names like Vicodin, Oxycontin and Percocet) supplied by retail pharmacies rose from 76 million to 219 million.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the increase in opioid use could be responsible for the decline in labor force participation seen since the turn of the century, particularly among men of prime working age.

Minnesota steps up opioid fight

The MDH announced Thursday that it has launched an "Opioid Dashboard," which you can find here, that serves as a "one-stop shop" for sharing efforts happening across the state to tackle the opioid epidemic.

This can be used by local authorities to discover what tactics are working, find data to use for grant applications, and identify trends.

In the press release. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith criticized the Minnesota legislature for failing to include a $42 million investment in opioid addiction prevention and treatment, and urged it to reconsider when it reconvenes.

"Our families can't afford to wait any longer for help."

Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

2nd period surge leads Wild to fourth straight win

With three goals in the second, the Wild blasted the last-place Coyotes.

Gopher Basketball / R.J. Stephens

Late-tip in helps Gophers pass first big test, improve to 6-0

Luke Loewe's bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining helped the Gophers stay undefeated.

ambulance

Man, 40, found dead stuck in air duct at his Otter Tail Co. home

The discovery was made by family members Monday morning.

Biden Minnesota visit stream screengrab - 11.30.31

What Biden said during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday

The president spoke at Dakota County Technical College.

Grand Marais

Cook County registers its first COVID-19 death of the pandemic

The sparsely populated, highly-vaccinated county has continuously had one of the lowest rates of COVID in the state.

Waits family screengrab CNN

Support for MN family after anti-maskers target child of school board chair

An online group opposing Kelsey Waits outed the child as transgender.

Pixabay - school - classroom

St. Paul schools add 2 days to winter break due to pandemic stress

The added days off are meant to acknowledge the stress the pandemic has caused.

Fardoussa Abdillahi

Charges: St. Cloud mother killed baby, placed him in dumpster

The 4-month-old baby was found by officers on Sunday morning.

ambulance

1 dead in crash at Lake Street intersection in south Minneapolis

There have been 465 deaths on Minnesota roads this year, according to the state's traffic division.

robbery

St. Paul restaurateur's businesses burglarized a 6th time

The owner of The Gnome and Hope Breakfast Bar is asking politicians to help St. Paul business owners.

North Memorial Air Care

Teen suffers life-threatening injuries in head-on crash in southern MN

The 18-year-old was airlifted to a Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester.

foo fighters grohl mr rossi wikimedia

Foo Fighters abruptly cancel Gophers stadium show hours after announcing it

The band is looking for a new venue because of a disagreement over COVID protocols.

Related

Red Lake Indian Reservation declares health emergency over opioid crisis

There's been a recent rise in overdoses and drug addiction.

Minnesota launches campaign to end prescription drug abuse

With overdoses on the rise, local officials are looking to curb the problem.

Minnesota gets $16.6 million in grants to fight the opioid crisis

Last year, nearly 2,500 opioid overdoses were reported in Minnesota.

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

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

MDH reports sharp rise in drug overdose deaths during pandemic

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

hydrocodon-DEA

Nonfatal drug overdoses continued to increase during COVID-19 pandemic

They mirrored the trend of fatal overdoses seen during 2020.