Thursday, October 21, 2021

Nonfatal overdoses rise in Minnesota as pandemic continues

The Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday reported an 18 percent increase in nonfatal overdoses in 2020.

The news comes after May’s report of a 27 percent increase in fatal overdoses. Health officials note that the coronavirus pandemic could be a factor.

Over the past two years of pandemic life, the opioid crisis in Minnesota “remains widespread and requires sustained, comprehensive drug overdose prevention and response efforts,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in the report.

Opioid and stimulant overdoses accounted for 57 percent of emergency room visits for non-fatal events out of a total of 7,290 overdoses.

Lydia Burr, clinical director of Hazeldon Betty Ford, the addiction treatment program in St. Paul, describes addiction as a “disease of isolation” and, with the lockdown due in the spring of 2020, “people have lost some of their lifeline almost overnight.” have lost access to them. They were keeping them safe and they were keeping them healthy.”

Noting the rise in non-fatal overdoses, Burr said he thinks there is still hope for people struggling with opioid addiction.

“Anytime someone experiences an overdose and they live through it, … it’s a sign of hope,” Burr said, “there is always hope for someone to recover or stop using or somehow make it through.” So that their life is no longer negative. affected by chemical use. “

racial influence

The Department of Health report found that the areas most affected by nonfatal overdoses reflect those communities that experience systemic racism.

According to the report, “American Indians were nine times more likely to experience a nonfatal overdose than white Minnesotans.” “Black Minnesotans were three times more likely than white Minnesotans to experience a non-fatal overdose.”

Burr said the response to this data at Hazelden Betty Ford is to remain culturally humble and have humility when working with recovering patients.

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“It is not a one-size-fits-all proposal, treatment has to be tailored to suit the culture, fit the community and determine the reach of one’s needs, and I think there is a need to do in that area.” There’s a lot to do,” he said.

The combination of systemic racism and a lack of access to effective recovery resources hinders one’s ability to recover, said Dana Farley, an overdose prevention supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Effect of Narkana

The report also found that there were 14 non-fatal overdoses for every fatal overdose in Minnesota. Burr believes that a “miracle” medicine, Narkan, may have saved many of them. Also known as naloxone, Narcan is a drug available to the public that works to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

State Department of Health epidemiologist Shelby Giselle said in the report that “prevention efforts such as linkage to naloxone distribution and care are promising practices that have the potential to save many lives.”

“There’s really always hope for recovery, no matter what one has experienced,” Burr said. “If you are concerned about yourself and you are concerned about a loved one, visit for information and resources.”

“We are here to help and we want to connect with people and we will meet them where they are and we will figure out the best way to give them the help they need.”

how to get help

In April the Minnesota Department of Health launched a podcast called “Stories from the Field” aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic. The podcast hosts health care sector experts and community leaders. It also includes interviews with people who have struggled with and survived substance abuse.

A list of recovery resources can also be found on the University of Minnesota website.

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