Opioid deaths hit record high across U.S., worry northland law enforcement

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 7:10 PM CST
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TWIN PORTS (KBJR) - New CDC data released reveals the United States opioid crisis is worse than ever.

The U.S. topped more than 100,000 opioid-related deaths between April of 2020 to April of 2021.

According to the CDC, Minnesota has seen a nearly 40% increase, nearing 1,200 deaths.

In Wisconsin, the state has seen a 20% increase, nearing 1,600 deaths.

Lieutenant Jeff Kazel with the Duluth Police Department and Commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, said the new data is worrisome.

Kazel said there have been 40 opioid-related deaths in the past year across the Northland.

“What we’re seeing is a large influx of fentanyl in this country and up here in this region also,” said Kazel.

Kazel said the main drugs they see leading to fatal overdoses are prescription pain relievers and other illicit narcotics, driven largely by the use of heroin.

It’s A drug widely used in Superior, and that worries Superior Police Department Officer Bradley Jago.

“We do see the heroin, Douglas County has always been, in terms of our general region a larger kind of heroin region than maybe some of the other counties around us, we’ve been on an island per se,” Jago said.

Jago said fentanyl use has increased in the Superior area as well.

Jago believes one factor that has driven Wisconsin’s statewide increase is easier access to illicit drugs over the years, making the death count soar.

The pandemic hasn’t helped either.

“The pandemic has hurt a lot of efforts when you have somebody that has an addiction and you combine it with isolation it’s just a bad recipe for disaster for people suffering from substance abuse disorder,” Kazel said.

But Benjamin Rae, Director of Provided Relations with addiction recovery organization, ideal option, said there is still hope.

“You can seek a higher level of care by finding out how to get enrolled in a detox, and then from the detox getting enrolled in an outpatient or inpatient facility,” Rae said.

For information about addiction recovery, you can click here.

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