Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said his office can’t – and won’t – lose sight of the opioid crisis even though the issue has been overshadowed of late by violence in Minneapolis, peaceful protests after the tragic death of George Floyd, talk of overdue police reform measures and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hennepin County has seen several distinct spikes in overdoses in the overdose tracking tool ODMAP –the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program – since the beginning of the pandemic. Since March 16, 615 suspected overdoses have been recorded in ODMAP, including 52 that were fatal.

“We have seen an uptick in fatal opioid overdoses nationwide and in Hennepin County over the past four months,” said Hutchinson. “We’re not hearing or reading about these tragedies as often, but they are still happening.”

The sheriff has announced two new strategies to combat the opioid addiction crisis specifically designed for the pandemic era: mailing Deterra drug disposal bags and offering online naloxone trainings. Funding for both programs has been provided through grants from the Hennepin County Sheriff Foundation and the RX Abuse Leadership Initiative of Minnesota.

The Sheriff’s Office will now mail Deterra drug disposal bags to anyone in the county who needs to dispose of unwanted or expired medications. The bags offer a simple, safe way to dispose of medications at home. People place their unwanted medication in the bag, add water, seal and shake. The entire bag can be disposed of in household trash.

Anyone who needs a Deterra bag can request one by emailing drugdisposal@hennepin.us and providing their mailing address. The Sheriff’s Office will mail out the bags at no cost.

In partnership with RALI Minnesota, the Sheriff’s Office is now offering online trainings on how to properly administer naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose.

To schedule an online naloxone training, send an email to drugdisposal@hennepin.us.

Upon completion of the online training, the HCSO will mail the participant a supply of naloxone, free of change.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction, resources are available. Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or reach out to Hennepin County social services at 612-348-4111.

For more information about the opioid addiction crisis and how the Sheriff’s Office is working to fight it, visit hennepinsheriff.org/stop.

Copyright © 2020 at Sun Newspapers. Digital dissemination of this content without prior written consent is a violation of federal law and may be subject to legal action.

Load comments