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How local healthcare leaders are responding to a rise in overdoses

Health officials are saying the pandemic is not the only reason for a rise in overdoses in 2020. There are several factors.

Minnesota and North Dakota both saw a sharp increase in overdoses last year. Those overdose rates went up by 32% in Minnesota and by about 20% in North Dakota according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WDAY News spoke with Dr. Aaron Stinton, a front-line emergency physician with Essentia Health. He said he is noticing an increase in overdose-related visits in the area. Throughout the past few years, they've been focusing on changing pain relief strategies in an effort to prevent these addictions from starting in the doctor's office.

"So we're really trying to use minimal amounts for the shortest period of time," Dr. Stinton said.

Don Martin, the Unit Commander with F-M Ambulance, said between January and April last year and comparing that time frame to this year, they have seen a market increase of about 357%.

Martin said there is not one single factor the cause of the increase in overdoses.

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"One is accessibility, cost, there's what's going on in the world, what's going on locally, what's going on in people's lives internally," Martin said "I don't think there's one smoking gun that this is it, this is what we have to fix."

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