MINNEAPOLIS— A Minnesota drug rehabilitation advocacy group is looking to increase the number of antidotes they hand out in the next year.
The Steve Rummler HOPE Network is hoping to hand out 24,000 antidotes for opioid overdoses, which is up from just 6,000 in 2016 according to the Associated Press.
The charitable foundation, named after Steve Rummler, a successful financial manager who died of a drug overdose after becoming addicted to prescription drugs, is looking to quell a growing problem of opioid drug abuse in the state of Minnesota.
Minnesota has seen a 10 percent increase in opioid deaths from 2014 to 2015 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the CDC does not identify Minnesota as a state with a statistically significant increase in drug overdose deaths.
States east of the Mississippi have been hit the hardest in the opioid epidemic, with much of the national conversation centering on Ohio and West Virginia.
In Canton, Ohio, the county coroner ran out of room to store bodies and had to rent a 20-foot-long trailer to store overflow bodies – many who died from a drug overdose, according to NBC.
In Kermit, West Virginia, 9 million prescription drugs were sold to the town over a two year span, according to MSNBC. Kermit only has a population of 400 people.
In Minnesota, the numbers aren’t as staggering, but the rise in prescription drug abuse and death in the state are on the rise.
According to a January 2016 report from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDHS), approximately two percent of Minnesota adults have met the state’s definition of having a drug problem.
While the report does not break down the percentage by drug type, MPR reports in Hennepin County, opioid deaths increased approximately 60 percent between 2015 to 2016.
MDHS notes the rate of unintentional drug overdose is higher than those who take pills to commit suicide. The report notes they are “aware of the high numbers of people who are addicted to opioid medications and heroin and associated overdose deaths.”
Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug handed out by the Steve Rummler HOPE Network, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “is an opioid antagonist – meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.”
According to the Associated Press, the Steve Rummler HOPE Network plan to distribute the life-saving drug to police officers, parents, and first responders amongst others.