‘Rise in fentanyl’: Minnesota reports record overdose deaths in 2021 

An average of nearly four Minnesotans died every day from a drug overdose.

$18,000 worth of heroin laced with fentanyl recovered by police in Duluth. (Alpha News)

Minnesota experienced a record number of drug overdoses in 2021, according to a Department of Health report released Thursday.

There were 1,286 overdose deaths reported to the Minnesota Department of Health last year, a 22% increase from 2020. This means an average of nearly four Minnesotans died every day from a drug overdose, the report says.

Deaths involving opioids increased by 35% in 2021, while deaths involving meth increased by 34% and deaths involving cocaine jumped by 81%.

MDH found that fentanyl, a “highly potent synthetic opioid,” was involved in 90% of all opioid-related deaths. Deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased from 560 in 2020 to 834 in 2021, meaning most overdose deaths in 2021 were associated with fentanyl.

A dose of fentanyl as small as three grains of rice can be lethal.

The health department said the “rise in fentanyl circulating in communities could be a contributing factor in the increase in overdose deaths.”

“Resources like fentanyl test strips can help prevent overdose and are available through community partners and local public health agencies,” MDH said.

Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm called for expanding access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse overdoses.

There was a larger percentage increase in overdose deaths in Greater Minnesota (23%) than in the seven-county metro area (20%), according to MDH.

Nonfatal overdoses decreased by 10% from 2020 to 2021, but there were still 10 nonfatal overdoses for every one overdose death.

Nationally, there were 107,000 overdose deaths last year. That’s one overdose death every five minutes and a 15% increase over the prior year.

Huge amounts of fentanyl are being shipped across the southern border. In two different incidents, border authorities seized packages containing enough fentanyl to kill 12 million people and four million people.


Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.