St. Paul, MN (KROC AM News) -  Minnesota saw a 74 percent spike in synthetic opioid-involved deaths in 2017 according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The big spike had a big increase largely due to the fentanyl-involved deaths. Of the 172 deaths that involved synthetic opioids, 156 had fentanyl listed as contributing to the death on the death certificate. That is 91 percent of the deaths.

“This dramatic increase shows that the opioid epidemic in Minnesota has also become a fentanyl public health crisis,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “These data confirm that Minnesotans addicted to opioids may unknowingly be exposing themselves to far greater and more deadly risks than they know. It is more important than ever for us to support Minnesotans in their efforts to seek help and treatment.”

The growing impact of fentanyl is so great that it is outweighing progress in other areas such as decreases in prescription opioid and heroin deaths, resulting in a total of three percent increase in deaths from 675 in 2016 to 694 in 2017. These numbers are subject to change as the MDH further confirm their accuracy.

Since 2000, commonly prescribed opioids have been involved in the greatest number of drug overdose death, and those numbers of deaths have remained stable over the past five years. Since 2011, heroin deaths have increased rapidly but showed a preliminary 29 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017.

It is important to note that data contained within the report are preliminary and likely to change when finalized. The results are still indicative, not definitive, of the final 2017 drug overdose deaths. The final report is anticipated to be complete by September 2018.

 

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