STOP: Survival Through Overdose Prevention

“The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to stopping the spread of opioid use and curbing this epidemic. We have a real opportunity to address this problem during incarceration. We want to help and treat people at the jail, so they leave with a clear mind and with tools to help them continue their recovery.”

– Sheriff David Hutchinson, Hennepin County

The opioid crisis

Opioid-related deaths have reached epidemic levels and the numbers continue to increase. Opioid overdoses are now the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people under the age of 50. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed on an average day in the U.S. DDS estimates that 3,900 people initiate the nonmedical use of prescription opioids every day.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 69,000 Americans died from drug overdose in 2018. Every day, more than 115 Americans die as a result of an opioid overdose. The misuse of addiction to prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl is a problem that affects urban, suburban, and rural communities all around the country.

Most individuals with an opioid use disorder report contact with the criminal justice system. Without treatment, they are at a significantly higher risk of death following incarceration. In Minnesota, 30% of opioid-related deaths occurred within in one year of release from a state, county, or local correctional facility. In Hennepin County, 55% of the deaths occurred in the first 90 days of release.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) can play a clear role in reducing opioid-related deaths. Sheriff David P. Hutchinson has developed the Survival Through Overdose Prevention (S.T.O.P.) strategy to fight the deadly epidemic.

“As a person in long-term recovery and having lost a loved one due to an opioid overdose, I am acutely aware of how the opioid epidemic impacts people throughout Minnesota.”

“The Steve Rummler HOPE Network is proud and grateful to have the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office as one of our dedicated overdose prevention, education, and advocacy partners. The Sheriff’s Office is instrumental in generating public awareness, education and community support relating to public health and safety laws. Also, through our training program, deputies and jail staff are now trained to administer lifesaving naloxone.”

– Lexi Reed Holtum, Executive Director, Steve Rummler HOPE Network

What we're doing

The HCSO is using a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the opioid epidemic. This includes strategies to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands, treating those with opioid use disorder in the jails, and using tools to prevent fatal overdoses.

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In the jail

The jail medical team is trained to recognize and treat patients affected by opioid use disorder.

  • A jail physician and nurse are embedded in the jail to treat inmates for opioid addiction.
  • Incoming inmates are screened for opioid use disorder upon entering the jail and are given appropriate treatment as needed.
  • Before an inmate is discharged from the Hennepin County Jail, they meet with a nurse coordinator to connect them with community clinics and on-going care.

Medicine disposal

Medicine disposal bags called Deterra bags can be obtained for free from HCSO office locations and are distributed at events throughout the county. Anyone who needs a Deterra bag can request one by emailing the HCSO at drugdisposal@hennepin.us and providing their mailing address. The HCSO will mail out Deterra bags at no cost.

  • Deterra bags can help people dispose of their old medications safely. To use, simply open the bag, toss in the unused pills, add water, shake, and place in the trash.
  • Deterra bags are a clean, safe, and convenient option for disposal of unused medication.

Drug disposal boxes

  • There are dozens of drug disposal boxes across the county that can accept unused medications for proper disposal.

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Every month more than half a ton of prescription drugs are destroyed. In 2018, 21,000 pounds of unused medication was destroyed by HCSO deputies.

Drug take-back

  • For the last several years, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has worked with pharmacy partners like Walgreens and Hy-Vee to collect unused prescription drugs across Hennepin County.
  • On April, 27, 2019, deputies and volunteers collected 51 boxes of unused medications, weighing a total of 478 pounds.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no drug take-back events scheduled at this time. Anyone who needs a Deterra bag can request one by emailing the HCSO at drugdisposal@hennepin.us and providing their mailing address. The HCSO will mail out Deterra bags at no cost.

Opioid response during COVID-19 pandemic

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson has said that his office can’t  - and won’t - lose sight of the opioid crisis even though the issue has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hennepin County has seen several distinct spikes in overdoses in the overdose tracking tool ODMAP since the beginning of the pandemic.

In June 2020, the sheriff announced two new strategies to combat the opioid addiction crisis specifically designed for the pandemic era: mailing Deterra drug disposal bags and offering online naloxone trainings. Funding for both programs has been provided through grants from the Hennepin County Sheriff Foundation.

Deterra Bag Mailing

As part of Sheriff Hutchinson’s Survival Through Overdose Prevention (STOP) campaign, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) had several in-person drug takeback events around the county planned for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of those events. The HSCO  will now mail Deterra drug disposal bags to anyone in Hennepin County who needs to dispose of unwanted or expired medications.

Deterra drug disposal bags offer a simple, safe way to dispose of medications at home. People place their unwanted medication in the bag, add water, seal, and shake. The entire bag can be disposed of in household trash. More detailed use instructions can be seen in the video below:

Anyone who needs a Deterra bag can request one by emailing the HCSO at drugdisposal@hennepin.us and providing their mailing address. The HCSO will mail out Deterra bags at no cost.

In 2018, about 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers for the first time. Flushing medication or throwing it in the trash is damages our natural environment. Proper storage and disposal of medication is a critical component of addressing the opioid epidemic. Most prescription drug abusers say that they obtained their supply of prescription medications from friends and family. Properly disposing of prescription medication, such as opioids, can significantly decrease the likelihood of individuals having access to these highly addictive drugs.

Online Naloxone Training

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is now offering online trainings on how to properly administer naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan® is a prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose. Naloxone is safe and effective and has been used by emergency medical professionals for decades. Minnesota State law allows anyone at risk for having or witnessing a drug overdose to obtain a prescription for naloxone.

To schedule an online naloxone training, send an email to drugdisposal@hennepin.us.

Upon completion of the online training, the HCSO will mail the participant a supply of naloxone, free of change.

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If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction, resources are available. Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or reach out to Hennepin County social services at 612-348-4111.

For more information about the opioid addiction crisis and how the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is working to fight it, visit hennepinsheriff.org/stop.

NARCAN spray

  • All licensed and detention deputies are trained in the use and have access to a NARCAN kit. The kits include a dose of naloxone, which reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
  • In 2014, HCSO became the first public safety/first response organization to carry naloxone in Minnesota.
  • By 2018, all 45 cities within Hennepin County had first response agencies available to deploy naloxone.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is now offering online trainings on how to properly administer naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan® is a prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose.To schedule an online naloxone training, send an email to drugdisposal@hennepin.us.

Upon completion of the online training, the HCSO will mail the participant a supply of naloxone, free of change.

Drug enforcement

  • Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has a number of investigators tasked with fighting the influx of opioid and synthetics.
  • In 2018, the HCSO seized 1,401 grams of fentanyl powder and heroin, and removed 516 pills of the street.
  • Within the first quarter of 2019, 1,099 grams of fentanyl powder and heroin was confiscated and 432 pills were seized.

Events and education

Public education about the severity of the opioid crisis is an essential element of addressing this crisis. The HCSO holds a series of town halls about the opioid crisis to help educate the public. Jail medical staff and patrol deputies take every opportunity they get to talk to people suffering from opioid use disorder and helping them learn about the resources available to deal with their addiction.

Special events

The HCSO partners with area organizations such as athletic teams to host special events to help educate community members about the opioid epidemic and what they can do to help prevent future opioid abuse. Past events have included a booth at the Minnesota State Fair and special events with the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no in-person drug collection events scheduled at this time.

Town hall meetings

The HCSO is partnering with area schools to host drug prevention and education town hall meetings for parents, guardians, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers. Speakers discuss current drug trends and dangers, and ways to prevent drug abuse.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no in-person drug town hall meetings scheduled at this time.

Group meetings and presentations

Sheriff Hutchinson and members of the HCSO speak to community organizations on a regular basis about the opioid epidemic, current drug dangers, trends, and prevention. To request someone from the HCSO to speak about opioid abuse prevention, contact Jeremy Zoss.

Partnerships

The HCSO is partnering with a variety of individuals and organizations to assist educating the community about current drug dangers, trends, and prevention. Members of the coalition offer resources, feedback, and volunteer services for the HCSO opioid abuse prevention campaign. To learn more about partnering with the HCSO, contact Jeremy Zoss.

  • CVS
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
  • Hennepin Chiefs
  • Hennepin County Environment and Energy
  • Hennepin County Sheriff’s Foundation
  • Hy-Vee
  • National Sheriff’s Association
  • Steve Rummler HOPE Foundation
  • Walgreens
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