Hennepin County issues overdose spike alert

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office issued an overdose spike alert Thursday, reminding residents that help is available if you see a suspected overdose.

According to the alert, there have been 34 suspected non-fatal overdoses and six suspected fatal overdoses in the last week. This includes the death of two people in their 20s at a home in Minneapolis Tuesday.

Addiction specialists at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation say they are not surprised by the alert, but believe it is likely an underestimate of the non-fatal overdoses occurring daily in the Twin Cities.

"It's unfortunate to say this is not surprising," said Dr. Damir Utrzan. "To authorities who are only now responding to this urgent need, it is challenging because that’s not what they do."

Dr. Utrzan says the numbers shared by Hennepin County Thursday are only a snapshot of the overdose data they review daily. As one of the leading treatment centers in the country, they have their own sophisticated data collection mechanisms and do regular data analysis of nationwide figures.

He says they know that the pandemic only intensified the opioid epidemic, and sent rates of alcoholism climbing. 

Across the river in St. Paul, police were not reporting a similar spike. A spokesperson with the St. Paul Police Department said they noticed an overdose spike at the beginning of October, rather than the end.