Drug overdoses jump dramatically in six weeks

Opioid Crisis

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — In the last six weeks drug overdoses have risen dramatically in Minnehaha County.

According to an OD-Map used by law enforcement, there have been 53 overdoses so far this year in the Sioux Falls area, with 13 resulting in death.

To give you some perspective, the overdose detecting mapping program used by law enforcement in Minnehaha County showed 39 overdoses at the end of May. By May, there were nine deaths and naloxone, known by the brand name of Narcan. It has been used to save lives– 12 times year-to-date.

Today, the number of overdoses had risen by 14 to 53. There have been four more deaths since May, and Narcan was used 9 more times. That’s a big jump in just six weeks.

The State’s Opioid Abuse Advisory Committee met Wednesday in Pierre. State Epidemiologist Joshua Clayton reports that 13 counties in the state are more vulnerable to opioid abuse.

They are Brown, Buffalo, Charles Mix, Corson, Dewey, Hughes, Lyman, Minnehaha, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, Roberts, Todd and Yankton.

The panel is looking for ways to target those areas, which are either more urban or have larger populations of Native Americans.

As KELOLAND Investigates reported in March, statistics show that Native American communities have been disproportionately hit hard in the opioid epidemic in terms of use and overdose deaths.

The network, GoodHealthTV, which targets the Native American population, will be expanding its messages about opioid abuse to another 10 reservation schools in South Dakota this year.

The state is also expanding its Avoid Opioid Prescription Addiction marketing campaign. One new focus will be reaching out to providers to prescribe medically assisted treatment for substance use disorder.

“To make sure providers understand the different options for patients. There’s a lot of different ways to approach this issues. A lot of times that needs to be decided by a doctor and the individual,” Holly Riker, of Hot Pink Ink said.

According to the State’s Prescription Drug monitoring program, doctors wrote 19 percent fewer prescriptions for opioid painkillers between 2016 and 2018.

The State Health Department’s overdose death numbers are only complete through 2017, which is two years behind.

Only Minnehaha County is using the real-time OD Map to track overdoses.
An effort is underway to have statewide implementation of the OD Map for a more accurate picture of the epidemic and how to respond to it.

Congressman Dusty Johnson says he supports the Fentanyl Sanctions Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020. The amendment is going up before the House this week.

The amendment would give the U.S. Government tools to sanction illegal synthetic opioid traffickers from China, Mexico and other countries. It also provides new funding to law enforcement and other agencies in stopping the spread of the illegal deadly drugs.

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