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New report shows record number of overdose deaths in Minnesota last year

Nearly 1,300 people died from overdoses in 2021 — up 22% from the previous year — while health officials attribute most of those deaths to fentanyl.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A new report released Thursday from the Department of Health shows a record number of Minnesotans died from drug overdoses in 2021.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), nearly 1,300 people — an increase of 22% from the previous year — succumbed to overdoses of various drugs, while health officials say most of the deaths were attributed to fentanyl.

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

The report further reveals that for the first time since 2014, the number of overdose deaths recorded in Greater Minnesota exceeds the number of deaths in the state's seven-county metropolitan area.

Although the rise in overdose deaths associated with opioids rose significantly, the report says the number of deaths associated with non-opioids, like methamphetamine and cocaine, also increased.

Health officials say they believe the increase in deaths related to fentanyl — 90% of all deaths involving opioids in 2021 — could also be a factor in other narcotics becoming laced with the substance. 

MDH has resources available to help prevent deaths from overdoses. To learn more about fentanyl testing strips, click here.

For access to naloxone near you, click here.

You can read the health department's full report here.

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