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Drug overdoses claimed 118 North Dakotans in 2020

Drug related overdoses claimed 118 North Dakota lives in 2020.

That’s up from 79 in 2019.

The North Dakota Department of Human Services said the COVID-19 pandemic has been impacting behavioral health. And Behavioral Health Division director Pamela Sagness said it has been especially difficult for those struggling with an opioid use disorder.

"We know individuals are feeling higher levels of stress and anxiety and depression," Sagness said. "It makes sense that we would see an impact in addiction."

Sagness said another factor is that it's difficult to prevent an overdose, when individuals are quarantined or isolating."

"They're not seeing loved ones or family members," Sagness said. "It's less likely there will be someone around to call 9-1-1, or administer Naloxone, in order to help save a life."

Sagness said it is key to get the information out that overdose can be prevented.

"If you know someone who is struggling with addiction to opioids, having close connections and contacts, and having Naloxone available, so that if someone does overdose, you can call 9-1-1, or administer Naloxone," Sagness said. "It's just really important that people know we can save a life, and connect people to effective treatment. Treatment works."

Naloxone is available from local public health units and pharmacies, or though the Department’s Division of Behavioral Services.

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