FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Jeremy Zoss, 612-919-5918
Hennepin County Sheriff Announces New Tools to Combat Opioid Addiction Crisis During COVID-19
July 1, 2020 (Minneapolis) – Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said today 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 following 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 since the beginning of the pandemic. Since March 16, 2020, 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 Sheriff David Hutchinson. “We’re not hearing or reading about these tragedies as often, but they are still happening.”
Today, the sheriff 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 (RALI Minnesota).
Deterra Bag Mailing
As part of Sheriff Hutchinson’s Survival Through Overdose Prevention (STOP) campaign, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) had several in-person drug takeback events around the county planned for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of those events. The HSCO will now mail Deterra drug disposal bags to anyone in Hennepin County who needs to dispose of unwanted or expired medications.
Deterra drug disposal 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. More detailed use instructions can be seen in the video here.
“Reducing the harms of the opioid addiction epidemic is one of my core missions, and I won’t lose focus of it now – or ever,” Sheriff Hutchinson said. “It is vitally important that we continue to offer tools to fight this problem in this time of increased mental, spiritual, and economic stress.”
Anyone who needs a Deterra bag can request one by emailing the HCSO at drugdisposal and providing their mailing address. The HCSO will mail out Deterra bags at no cost.
In 2018, about 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers for the first time. Flushing medication or throwing it in the trash is damages our natural environment. Proper storage and disposal of medication is a critical component of addressing the opioid epidemic. Most prescription drug abusers say that they obtained their supply of prescription medications from friends and family. Properly disposing of prescription medication, such as opioids, can significantly decrease the likelihood of individuals having access to these highly addictive drugs.
Online Naloxone Training
In partnership with RALI Minnesota, the HCSO 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.
“If you know someone living with addiction, knowing how to properly administer naloxone may mean the difference between life and death,” Sheriff Hutchinson said. Naloxone is safe and effective and has been used by emergency medical professionals for decades. Minnesota State law allows anyone at risk for having or witnessing a drug overdose to obtain a prescription for naloxone.
To schedule an online naloxone training, send an email to drugdisposal.
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 (SAMHSA) 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 Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is working to fight it, visit hennepinsheriff.org/stop.
– HCSO –
This press release has been update to correct a typo on the contact email.
Look for more news on the Hennepin County Sheriff’s website at http://www.hennepinsheriff.org.