Minnesota overdose deaths up 30% in the first half of 2020

    Emergency department entrance.

    Overdose deaths in Minnesota increased by more than 30% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Health.  

    The report recorded 490 overdose deaths between January and June, compared to 373 deaths in the first half of 2019. The statistics verified the fears of many addiction experts that isolation during the pandemic could affect overdose rates.

    Overdose deaths began to rise sharply in March, primarily driven by synthetic-opioid deaths. The monthly death toll peaked in May with 105 fatalities. 

    There were nearly twice as many overdose deaths in the Twin Cities metro than in greater Minnesota. Both regions saw a spike in overdose deaths, with a 29% increase in the metro and a 36% increase in greater Minnesota.

    Minnesotans ages 25-34 saw the biggest uptick in deaths among all age groups. 

    “Deaths due to overdoses are preventable even amid all the troubles we’ve had this year,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a statement. “We need to work together to find ways to better support those suffering from substance use disorders, but it is important to know that there are resources available and those resources can still be accessed safely even with COVID-19 restrictions in place.”

    Minnesotans who need help with drug addiction can find resources here.

    Dylan Miettinen
    Dylan Miettinen is a Reformer intern. A fourth-year student at the University of Minnesota, he was born and raised in Omaha, Neb. He currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, the Minnesota Daily. He's also worked for CNN, the Minnesota Media and Publishing Association and the Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast.