Alarming Trend in Deadly Opioid Overdoses in Duluth

Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 6:55 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Duluth Police are reporting an alarming trend with deadly opioid overdoses calling the city the epicenter of a potential opioid epidemic.

The police department released new numbers Wednesday saying they responded to 37 opioid-related fatal overdoses this year. That is up from the 35 overdoses reported for all of 2022.

Police say fentanyl has become a major contributor to both fatal and non-fatal overdoses. Even though the trend has been rising, police say this year is shocking with an increase in pressed pills laced with fentanyl.

Substance Use Response Team (SURT) Program Coordinator Jess Nickila says this is a community problem and it needs a community solution.

“This year and this spike is so drastic that more people are seeing it, which I partially think is good that more people are becoming aware that we are the epicenter for an opioid epidemic in our area,” said Nickila. “It is happening here; it is in Duluth.”

Nickila says the opioid problem has existed in this community for decades starting in the 90′s when Duluth pharmacies were disproportionately prescribing opioid prescriptions when compared to the rest of the state.

She says community partners, education, and prevention are all solutions to the problem. Nickila says harm reduction services are also important because they provide free fentanyl test strips as well as Narcan, which is an opioid reversal drug.

Police also want to remind everyone of Minnesota’s “Steve’s Law” which provides some limited immunity for the person overdosing as well as the person calling 911.

Click here to download the Northern News Now app or our Northern News Now First Alert weather app.