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Tackling the drug epidemic, during a pandemic



The holidays are tremendously stressful for everyone, and the duality of pandemic restrictions and end-of-the-year stressors may hit folks struggling with addiction particularly hard. In Minnesota, opioid overdose deaths have been on the rise since 2000, with Hennepin County seeing “several distinct spikes” in overdoses just since the beginning of the pandemic.

As a community, there are several steps that can and have been taken to prevent the misuse of opioids, but immediate medical intervention is also needed in order to save lives and tackle the crisis head-on.

Naloxone, the medication also commonly known as Narcan, is one such drug that can be used during medical emergencies to treat narcotic overdose. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office first started carrying naloxone in 2014, and was the first public safety organization in the state to do so. By 2018, every city within Hennepin County had first responders ready to use it in emergency situations.

And while having law enforcement and medical personnel with access to and training for naloxone is a fantastic first step, individuals can purchase Narcan with a prescription and administer the lifesaving drug after being trained themselves. Luckily, the Sheriff’s Office, led by Sheriff David Hutchinson, remains dedicated to stopping the spread of overdose deaths even in the age of coronavirus.


Back in June, Sheriff Hutchinson announced that the force would be implementing two new approaches to tackling the opioid crisis that are conducive to social distancing — distributing drug Disposal bags via mail, and offering naloxone training online.

The Sheriff’s Office has been partnering with local pharmacies over the last few years to put on drug take-back events, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented this in 2020. Instead, folks can now email the HCSO at and provide their mailing address to receive a free Deterra bag to collect their unused prescription drugs.

Copyright © 2021 at Sun Newspapers/APG Media of East Central Minnesota.