Avera Medical Minute: Opioid overdoses on the rise in South Dakota, going against national trend

Published: Aug. 13, 2019 at 6:31 PM CDT
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While the Centers for Disease Control has shared statistics showing a decline of overdose deaths nationwide, South Dakota sadly is not following the trend.

There have been 12 overdose cases in Sioux Falls so far this year, which is more than this time last year.

Malia Holbeck is the manager of the Avera addiction recovery program. She says most overdose deaths involve opioids. "So that's gonna be your prescription opioid medications, which would typically be medications prescribed for pain and your illicit substances that you'll find such as heroin and fentanyl," said Holbeck. "Often times I think people may have lost that tolerance where they are using more and putting themselves at risk for overdose."

There are several factors that could be a contributor to the increasing amount of overdose deaths in South Dakota, while they decline in the rest of the nation. Drug trends usually start in the larger populations, and eventually make their way here, meaning a decrease could follow in our region. Another reason could be the intersection of I-29 and I-90, and the drug traffic that flows right through the heart of Sioux Falls.

Lieutenant Randy Brink with the Sioux Falls Police Department says the recent addition of 3 officers on the drug task force will continue to make a difference. Another intervention that is turning the tide is the availability of Narcan which can reverse the effects of opioids within minutes. "So far in 2019, we know of 28 calls that our officers have been on, where Narcan has been administered to patients that are in need, either by firefighters, paramedics or our police officers. So the question does Narcan save lives, undoubtedly," said Lt. Brink.

Betsy Schuster with the helpline center says while law enforcement, paramedics and treatment facilities are working together, there is one thing you can do in your home to fight the fight by getting rid of any medications you are no longer using. "Please call us at 2-1-1 to find a drop off location in your area," said Schuster. "There are many out there, and it's so important to get those disposed of because if they're not around then there's not a chance for someone to abuse those."

If you know someone struggling with addiction, you can also purchase Narcan to have on hand, should you need to intervene while you wait for help to arrive.

More treatment beds will soon be available with the opening of the Avera additction care center, part of the Avera on Louise Health Campus at 69th and Louise, accepting treatment patients in December 2019.

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