(FOX 9) - Drug overdose deaths increased 31 percent in the first half of 2020, according to new Minnesota Department of Health data.
490 Minnesotans died from overdoses in the first half of 2020. 373 people died during the same timeframe in 2019.
The state says overdoses started to increase sharply in March due to synthetic opioid-involved deaths. About 80 percent of deaths during this timeframe were synthetic opioid-related.
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm connected the overdose surge to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Deaths due to overdoses are preventable even amid all the troubles we’ve had this year,” Malcolm said.
She called on Minnesotans to work together to find ways to support those suffering from substance use disorders.
According to Health Department data, deaths in all drug categories, including opioids, synthetic opioids, prescribed opioids, heroin, psychostimulants, benzodiazepines and cocaine, increased in 2020.
Adults ages 25-34 saw the largest increase in drug overdose deaths from 81 in the first half of 2019 to 128 in the first half of 2020.
Geographically, overdose deaths increased 29 percent in the Twin Cities metro area and 36 percent in Greater Minnesota year-over-year.