Preliminary statistics show that during 2017, Hennepin County experienced 162 opioid-related deaths, a number that is likely to increase as final numbers come in.
This marks a new record high for the county, surpassing last year’s 153 opioid-related deaths, and resulting in a more than 47 percent increase since 2015.
“This is startling to see an almost 50 percent increase in opioid-related deaths during the past two years,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “For this reason, the Sheriff’s Office will be utilizing all local and federal resources available to us to prevent the illegal supply of drugs from entering our community, and to raise awareness of the public safety and public health epidemic.”
Last year, in response to the then-record high numbers, Sheriff Stanek and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office launched a drug abuse prevention campaign called #NOverdose. As part of the campaign, the Sheriff’s Office has partnered with school-parent organizations, law enforcement agencies, elected officials, businesses, and health and community organizations to assist in educating the community about current drug dangers, trends and prevention.
“The Sheriff’s Office participated in nearly 130 #NOverdose events during 2017, from speaking to small groups at local rotary meetings, or partnerships with the Minnesota Vikings and Twins, to educating State Fair goers during all 12 days of the event at our #NOverdose booth. With each event, we realized that many community members were not aware of the dangers that opioids pose and the impacts they have on all families, in every part of the county,” said Sheriff Stanek. “There is still more education that is needed, and we will continue our #NOverdose drug prevention campaign during 2018.”
2017 also marked the first year that carfentanil was found as a cause of death in Minnesota, resulting in at least 14 deaths by year-end. During 2013 through 2017, the county experienced more than 650 opioid-related deaths, with a substantial increase during the past two years.
According to 2016 data from the National Center for Health Statistics, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Synthetic drug-related deaths, specifically fentanyl and carfentanil, along with non-opioid drug-related deaths, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, have caused a significant increase in annual drug overdose deaths both nationality and locally.
Information from Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department