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St. Paul PD says 89 suspected overdoses in the city so far this year

In 24 hours, St. Paul police responded to seven suspected overdoses — two of them fatal.

ST PAUL, Minn. — In 24 hours, St. Paul police responded to seven suspected overdoses — two of them fatal.

"We saw an increase in overdoses that appeared to be accidental. This is not new to us, we are seeing this all over the country," said Senior Commander Axel Henry, with the St. Paul Police Department.

It's something Henry and Sgt. Justin Tiffany with the department's Community Outreach and Stabilization Unit (COAST) say has been steadily increasing over the years. 

"From 2019, we had about 46 fatal overdoses. In 2020, that number jumped to 82. And at this point this year already in 2021, we're suspecting that we had 89 fatal overdoses," said Tiffany.

The department is now sending out a warning saying these latest overdoses could be linked to synthetic opioids being mixed into narcotics.

"Probably a multitude of contributing factors, but the number one is fentanyl, but we're also seeing that added to drugs to increase strength," said Henry.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) more than 1,000 people died from drug overdoses statewide last year — a 27% increase from the previous year.

Overall, there was a 30% increase in overdoses nationwide in 2020.

"Even if you are using Narcan, it doesn't mean the narcotics don't contain different narcotics that can cause death," said Tiffany.

Tiffany says although NARCAN does help, he says synthetic opioids are lethal in small doses and it can be difficult to determine if the narcotics contain them prior to ingestion.

"Recognize the narcotics on the street are not what they were 10 to 15 years ago," said Tiffany. "If you have someone you know using narcotics, make sure they are aware of the consequences."

St. Paul P.D. and Ramsey County have programs available to help people with a chemical dependency find help.

To learn more about outreach programs and assistance, visit the website here.