- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Hennepin County officials and community organizations are launching an effort that they hope will reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths in the county this year.

The “NOverdose” campaign was formed after the release of data showing that the state’s most populous county saw an increase of more than 30 percent in opioid overdose deaths in 2016, Minnesota Public Radio reported (https://bit.ly/2krJfg1).

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said the family of drugs, which includes opioid painkillers and heroin, killed 144 people in the county last year. Those who died ranged from 16 to 98 years old.

“If we had 144 homicides in Hennepin County, people would be shouting,” Stanek said. “What’s the difference?”

Stanek said law enforcement is good at investigating the criminal aspect of the drug epidemic, but that the campaign will aim to get community partners to help raise awareness of the dangers of overdose.

“We can do more. The public safety messaging is important,” Stanek said. “We want to get the message out far and wide that we’ve got a problem and it’s going to take the community to help us get back on track here.”

Stanek has been an advocate of preventing opioid overdose deaths with policies, including the 2015 Steve’s Law, which made naloxone, an opioid antidote, more widely available.

Hennepin was one of the first counties in Minnesota to equip sheriff’s deputies with naloxone. Stanek said that in the last few months, deputies have used it to reverse the effects of overdoses at least six times.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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