Drug Overdose Awareness Day offers reflection after Minnesota sees record deaths in 2020

For many families across Minnesota, Thursday marked a day of both loss and hope as they reflected on Drug Overdose Awareness Day.

Dillon Beckman has struggled with addiction for 20 years.

"I was hopeless," said Beckman. "I never thought I was going to want to be sober."

Now in recovery at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, he’s paid a horrible price. His father, and even the mother of his children, died from overdosing on heroin. Beckman came close himself.

"But another time I overdosed and a friend was there, and she said that I just turned blue and lifeless," said Beckman.

He survived, but so many have not.

Drug overdoses killed 1,006 Minnesotans in 2020, marking an all-time high. The year saw a 58% increase in opioid overdoses, mostly driven by more potent street drugs. The data shows deep disparities. African Americans are three times more likely to suffer an overdose, while Native Americans are seven times more likely.

Taylor Hohman, a community engagement manager with Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, says she tries to connect with those in struggling with addiction.

"There is hope. You don’t need to suffer and overdose or, you know, die from a drug-related death," said Hohman.

One of the best life-saving tools is naloxone. Alicia House of the Steve Rummler Hope Network says it is easy to administer. After injecting the needle in the vial, you withdraw all of the drug into the syringe and then inject it into an arm or thigh.

"You want to make sure you press it all the way in so that it gets into the muscle, not just the top layer of the skin or fat," said House. "And then you would inject it, the entire amount."  

"Anyone can do it, absolutely," she added. "And everyone should know how to do it in order to save a life."

For those struggling with addition and looking for help, it’s there.

"It’s never too late," said Beckman. "It’s never too late to stop and get some help and transform your life."