Overdose deaths continue to climb in Minnehaha County

Local News

The numbers are alarming.

Even though there’s been a lot of public awareness about our opioid crisis over the past year, overdose deaths continue to rise.

In 2018, the county saw 23 overdose deaths.

That number has been steadily increasing since 2012.

So far this year, Minnehaha County has seen 15 overdose deaths and sadly they expect that number to keep climbing.

Prescription painkillers are no longer the big problem when it comes to overdoses.

“The dent we’re making is, we are getting rid of the prescription opiates we are making changes in doctors, so they don’t prescribe the opiates, we are reducing all that, what we are seeing is people transition,” Minnehaha County Coroner Dr. Kenneth Snell

But what they’re transitioning to is now the big concern.

“People aren’t always getting what they think they are getting,” Snell said.

Minnehaha County Coroner Dr. Kenneth Snell says he’s seeing more overdose deaths related to heroin and fentanyl or a deadly combination of the two.

If they are normally getting one drug that they are used to what they may be getting off the street is that drug or a combination of that drug or something else or another one altogether different, so we see deaths when this person normally abuses this drug, but they’re dying of another one,” Snell said.

To stop the opioid crisis, treatment is the key, but that’s easier said than done.

“There’s still a lot of guilt and shame that go along with this addiction,” Malia Holbeck Avera Manager of Addiction Recovery Program

Malia Holbeck manager of Addiction Recovery Program at Avera says often times people are hesitant to seek treatment.

“What we will do with these individuals, we’ll do a chemical dependency assessment with them, because what we really want to do is to see the scope of the issue and be able to determine what is going to be the best plan of care for that person,” Holbeck said.

Avera provides both impatient and outpatient treatment and telemedicine to help in rural areas, but unfortunately there are still gaps.

“So not only in our state, but across the nation there is just a lack of access to treatment and a lack of access to treatment providers to really be able to help with these individuals,” Holbeck said.

Dr. Snell says most of the illegal opioids are coming from overseas; then being distributed to places like Chicago and the east coast, before they find their way into Sioux Falls and surrounding areas.

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