ST PAUL, Minn. — It was quiet on Carroll Avenue in St. Paul on Wednesday, but on Monday, March 22 the St. Paul Police Department was busy responding to an overdose - one of three fatal incidents in a little more than three hours.
“When the pandemic started, we saw a significant increase in overdoses,” says Officer Justin Tiffany. “Over the last 48 hours we’ve actually had 5 overdose deaths."
Tiffany works with the Community Outreach and Stabilization Unit and spearheads the department’s Recovery Access Program. The unit recently refurbished a bus to provide chemical dependency, mental health and housing support for those in need.
“Anyone that’s experienced an overdose, we go to that location and we offer services through our licensed alcohol drug counselor,” says Tiffany.
So far this year, there were more than 30 overdose deaths in St. Paul, a number that's on the rise.
"For 2019, there were 46 suspected fatal overdoses, so from 2019 to 2020 there was approximately a 78% increase and we are looking to increase that number through 2021,” says Tiffany.
Narcan is used frequently to try to save lives, with members of the mobile unit continuing to help connect people with recovery resources.
“We respond to overdose follow-ups, so after an overdose occurred, we offer resources to the family members and the people who experienced overdoses,” says Melissa Reich, a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.
While the recent overdoses are a part of a disturbing trend, they’re working daily to provide people with the support they need. “Biggest thing is to break down barriers to treatment and we are doing that by being out there in the community,” says Tiffany.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, know that there's assistance available. The Ramsey County Chemical Health Unit is a great place to start. It's an access point for state-licensed chemical dependency services.
You can call 651-266-4008 for more information and help.
And if you'd rather learn more about the services available without making a call, take a look at this website.
THE FOLLOWING VIDEO IS FROM DECEMBER 2020: