Drug overdose deaths from opioids up in Minnesota since 2014

- The number of drug overdose deaths in Minnesota increased by 11 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to new data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

In 2015, more than half the 572 drug-related deaths were related to prescription medication, rather than illegal street drugs. Opioid pain relievers were leading drugs associated with deaths, followed by heroin, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines and cocaine.

A large majority of the deaths were unintentional drug overdoses. Suicide deaths involving drugs have also increased, from 36 deaths in 2000 to 100 in 2015.

In the Twin Cities metro, the rate and number of drug overdose deaths remains slightly higher than the rest of the state. In 2015, there were 11.6 deaths per 100,000 residents in the metro, compared to 9.3 per 100,000 in the rest of the state.

“With all the attention on this issue over the past several years, it’s disappointing that we have not been more effective in slowing down this epidemic,” Minnesota health commissioner Ed Ehlinger said in a statement. “It shows we must redouble our efforts and implement a comprehensive public health approach involving communities, health care providers and law enforcement to increase prevention efforts and access to chemical dependency treatments, pain management and emergency interventions such as Naloxone.”

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