Rochester overdoses go up 29 percent

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(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester Police Department (RPD) says their call numbers are up by more than 1,200 calls from 2021 to 2022.

One of the most alarming statistics is the increase in overdose calls.

RPD says their calls relating to overdoses went up 29 percent last year, from 93 in 2021 to 120 in 2022. This year, they have already responded to 40 overdose calls.

“You know it’s not infrequent at this point to hear a call come out where someone has called 911 saying someone is in medical distress, possible overdose, we need emergency response immediately,” said Capt. Tim Parkin with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office.

Captain Parkin says looking at the county as whole the story is much of the same. But he says now that they are dealing with overdoses more, they are more prepared to help those in need.

“Usually, it’s kind of that first person to respond starts that immediate care and we are seeing the quicker we get there and the quicker we are administering Narcan, generally the better outcome that we are getting,” said Capt. Parkin.

While it’s important to prevent people from overdosing in the first-place experts say it’s just as important to help those already struggling with addiction.

“They are playing Russian roulette out there every time they go out and use,” said David Hunter the center director for Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge in Rochester.

Hunter says their numbers have increased exponentially since the pandemic.

“Yeah, we are seeing an increase in young people consistently coming into our program to not just seek help from drugs and alcohol, but really searching for help on how to save their lives,” said Hunter.

At the facility, the men’s side is full and the women’s is not that far behind. But despite the increase in numbers, Hunter adds, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope.

“But every day we see men and women change their lives and become these beautiful new creations and go back out in the community and have these amazing impacts,” said Hunter.

To help address the increase in numbers, Olmsted County is investing $7.2 million into an outreach program for people who have survived drug overdoses.

If you or any you know is struggling with addiction below is a list of resources:

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge

Olmsted County

Zumbro Valley Health Center