Opiate Drug Overdose Deaths in Minnesota – One Addict, Real Statistics

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Opiate Drug Overdose Deaths in Minnesota – One Addict, Real Statistics

Should dealers who provide addicts with a substance resulting in a deadly drug overdose be arrested? It’s a growing trend in Minnesota and elsewhere. If someone dies from drugs purchased from a dealer, that dealer can be charged with third degree murder.

This comes with growing concern about the opiate and heroin epidemic in Minnesota and elsewhere. Statistics are bleak, and may begin to explain why law enforcement has become rather heavy-handed in these cases.

Minnesota Heroin Dealer Charged with Death of Addict

March 16, 2016 -Twenty-three year old Ryan Anderson of Austin, MN, was arrested on March 3. He was charged this week with third-degree murder.

Police say it involves the death of Tyler Burkey, also 23 from Austin. He was found in his bathroom after police were called to his home on December 18, 2015. He had a hypodermic needle in his arm, and an autopsy revealed he died of heroin overdose.

Anderson lived with his grandmother, who had also operated a day care for 30 years. He was arrested at her home, and police also found foil and other drug paraphernalia in his bedroom at that time.

Anderson was targeted during a police sting operation that began in late February. An informant arranged to buy heroin from Anderson, one of which occurred in the day care home, as Anderson handed the drug out of his bedroom window.

When interviewed by police, Anderson denied selling the drug to Burkey, but later admitted when he was shown text messages that transpired between the two men. Anderson was also charged with three drug-dealing cases. He is currently in jail pending those charges.

Data on Opiate Drug Overdose Deaths: Minnesota and the Twin Cities

This data review of Minnesota’s heroin problem is based on the document “Drug Abuse Trends in Minneapolis/St. Paul: 2015” by Carol Falkowski for the Drug Abuse Dialogues.

Data was obtained from Ramsey County and Hennepin County medical examiners, and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington countines through Dec. 2014).

Hennepin County (Minneapolis Area)

Opiate-related deaths in 2014 numbered 102, down from 134 the previous year. That nearly a 25% reduction. Forty-nine percent of fatalities involved heroin, just over 30% involved methadone, 8% involved cocaine and an opiate, over 10% involved oxycodone, and about 5% involved fentanyl.

The decline in deaths may be related to the increasing widespread availability of the life-saving anti-overdose drug naloxone. Drug availability got a boost from state legislation in 2014 and was heavily adopted by the county.

Ramsey County (St. Paul Area)

In 2014, opiate-related deaths numbered 42, up from 37 the previous year. That’s over a 13% increase, despite the naloxone legislation. Just over 33% involved methadone, while heroin deaths came in at 26%.  About 14% were oxycodone-related, 8% were cocaine used with opiates, and only one death each involved fentanyl or an opiate/methamphetamine combination.

Earlier Statistics

According to the Star Tribune, in 2013 Minnesota had more drug overdose deaths than car accident fatalities.

The state Health Department reported that in 2013, 507 residents died of various types of drug overdose. Most of those were in the 11-county metro area, and were related to prescription painkillers or heroin. By contrast, less than 400 people died in traffic accidents.

Commentary

It’s encouraging to see progress in the Minneapolis area, as it is twice the size of Ramsey County. Data from 2015 should reveal more about Ramsey County, if they began to do a better job of utilizing naloxone.

It is a bit worrisome that over 30% in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties were due to methadone, which is a drug commonly prescribed to help addicts get off heroin.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Related: North Carolina Experiencing Record Increases in Heroin Deaths

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