Non-fatal overdoses increased 18 percent in 2020

More than 7,000 Minnesotans overdosed on drugs in 2020.

According to a study on non-fatal overdoses, emergency room visits for overdoses increased 18 percent compared to 2019, from 6,196 to 7,290.

MDH says for every 2020 overdose death in the state, 14 non-fatal overdoses were reported.

Most of the overdoses occurred in the metro area, but over 2,400 were in Greater Minnesota.

Opioids and stimulants drove up much of the increase over the COVID pandemic, accounting for 57 percent of non-fatal overdose treatment at hospitals.

“The report on nonfatal overdoses in Minnesota is a reminder that so many lives are tragically impacted by substance use,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest public health issue in the world for almost two years now, but the other pressing public health issues have not gone away. The opioid epidemic continues to be pervasive and requires continuing, comprehensive drug overdose prevention and response efforts.”


As with fatal overdose data, we see populations most impacted by systemic racism are more often affected by substance use,” said MDH Overdose Prevention Supervisor Dana Farley.

“Recovery has a greater chance of success when communities are involved. Systemic racism and lack of access to recovery resources hinder recovery efforts for many Minnesotans. The Minnesota Department of Health is working to amplify the work of our community partners who provide needed support for people in their recovery journey.”

“As long as someone is alive, they can access treatment resources, making recovery possible,” said MDH epidemiologist Shelbi Giesel. “Prevention efforts like naloxone distribution and linkages to care are promising practices that have the potential to save many lives.”

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a life-saving medication that can be used by anyone to reverse the effects of opioids during an overdose.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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