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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Fentanyl detection up 400 percent in Minnesota

According to a recent analysis from Millennium Health, the amount of illicit fentanyl that has tested positive in Minnesota drug testing this year compared to 2019 has jumped by 400% thus far.

The San Diego-based business examined urine drug tests from drug abuse treatment facilities and contrasted results from the first half of 2022 with information from 2019. The research states that fentanyl detection has surged 208 percent among cocaine users and 287 percent among methamphetamine users. In urine drug tests conducted throughout the state, the positive rate for fentanyl rose from 1.76 percent to 8.79 percent.

Of the six most populous counties in the state, St. Louis County had the most dramatic rise in fentanyl positive, rising by more than 2,500%. According to data from Millennium Health, the positive rate increased from less than 1 percent to more than 17 percent. Between 2019 and 2022 in St. Louis County, the prevalence of positive tests for heroin climbed by more than 1,200%, cocaine by over 250%, and methamphetamine by 150%.

Director of clinical affairs at Millennium Health, Dr. Kelly Olson, claimed to have firsthand knowledge of the rises seen in the northern Minnesota region.

Because they’re tending to find more positive results for those substances than they have in the past, Olson said that he is receiving more phone calls from physicians asking for help measuring methamphetamine or fentanyl in their patients’ urine.

Olson claimed that people still don’t realize how dangerous and pervasive fentanyl is, particularly in port cities like Duluth. It is difficult to predict the dose of fentanyl that a person may be exposed to because the synthetic drug is combined on the streets and frequently blended into other street narcotics.

“There’s frequently no ‘trying’ the drug when it comes to fentanyl or the combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine, or whatever it may be,” Olson said. “It’s over, and that individual might not live,”

The Twin Cities metro area’s five most populous counties in Minnesota—Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Anoka, and Washington—saw increases in fentanyl positive of more than 100% from 2019.

A synthetic opioid called fentanyl was created for pain management and has a potency up to 100 times greater than morphine. If fentanyl enters the circulation or a mucous membrane, as little as two grains of salt’s worth of it can be lethal. Other street drugs, including as crushed pills, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin, frequently include it. Even when applied to the skin, fentanyl does not cause death.

According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health, there were the most opioid-related overdose deaths in Minnesota in history in 2020. The 678 fatalities were over 60% greater than in 2019, the previous record-high year. More than half of the state’s opioid overdose deaths in 2019 were caused by synthetic opioids.

One thing to keep in mind is that people may not always be aware that they are using fentanyl, according to Olson. They can believe they are purchasing heroin or methamphetamine, only to learn through an autopsy or a drug test that they really tested positive for fentanyl while they weren’t aware of it. It’s not just a statistic when people in close-knit communities pass away because those folks are relatives or friends.

Olson claimed that because fentanyl is so inexpensive to make and does not depend on external factors like weather or growing seasons as heroin does, its rise is an issue for the entire country. She also cautioned that fentanyl manufacturers often make the drug in the form of brightly colored tablets or powders known as “rainbow” fentanyl since they aren’t always concerned with attempting to conceal the medication as an actual pill.

Olson stated that “the cartels are certain that their product gets into every neighborhood.” For gods’ sake, you can see it in the little towns in northern Minnesota. It has spread everywhere.

In Minnesota, it is legal to own and carry fentanyl test strips. They are available locally through Harm Reduction Sisters, along with naloxone (Narcan). In addition, pharmacies offer free naloxone.

According to the news release, chief clinical officer at Millennium Health Dr. Angela Huskey remarked, “We have already seen too many Minnesota families lose loved ones to medications.” Our mission is to collaborate with community groups, medical professionals, and public health and safety agencies in order to treat drug exposures before they become fatal overdoses.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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