An opioid overdose requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know exhibits any of the symptoms.

Opioids in Black Minnesota

While Minnesota has one of the lowest drug overdose mortality rates in the nation, Minnesota also has some of the most significant race rate disparities in drug overdose mortality. Black Minnesotans were two times more likely to die from a drug overdose than white Minnesotans.

Everyone can play a role in supporting our Black and BIPOC communities. Spreading the word about opioid dangers and resources for treatment and recovery helps make us all stronger.

Get help for opioid use disorder

If you – or someone you know – are struggling with substance use disorder, there are 24/7 resources to help. Visit our website to learn more about Fast-Tracker.

If someone you know is experiencing symptoms of an overdose, call 911 immediately.

Disparities Among Racial Communities

According to a 2015 study, Black Americans made up approximately 5.8% of Minnesota’s population but were 10.1% of the treatment population for opioid use disorder.

The age-adjusted drug overdose mortality rate for Black Americans in Minnesota is the sixth highest in the U.S. (among the 38 states for which data are available). The same study found death due to drug poisoning or overdose is two times greater among Black Americans than whites.

Jenny holding her wrist

The Timeline of Misuse

Trauma, Heath and Inequities in Care

The Minnesota Department of Health developed a Race Rate Disparity in Drug Overdose Death report that outlines the realities of poverty, racism, classism, social isolation, sexual exploitation, and other social inequities that affect people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug related harms.

Risk factors for developing a substance use disorder add up over a lifetime starting with historical trauma, genetics, substance exposure during pregnancy, adverse childhood experiences, early exposure to drugs and social contexts where drugs are used, and early initiation to drug use.

Complexity Behind Disparities

According to the Minnesota Department of Health’s Federal Opioid Briefing, there are many reasons why African Americans are dying from, and misusing prescription and illicit opioids, including, but not limited to:

  • Higher incidents of historical trauma
  • Higher incidents of adverse childhood experiences
  • Lack of access to medical care and/or non-opioid treatment options
  • Stigma in pursuing chemical health treatment and recovery
  • Lack of access to culturally responsive treatment programs
  • Lack of trust with Western medicine interventions
  • Failure to appropriately diagnose physical or mental health symptoms
  • Lack of research about the effectiveness of interventions within BIPOC communities
    Easier access to illicit drugs within the community
  • Racial bias on the part of providers who prematurely and/or abruptly discontinue opioids
  • Illicit drugs are currently addressing symptoms
  • Cultural acceptance of sharing prescription medications with loved ones


Substance use disorder can have wide-reaching effects and be rooted in deep struggles with physical and psychological pain. Don’t wait until an overdose to seek help. Everyone is worthy of recovery and help is available now.

Fast-Tracker is a database of resources and treatment options created specifically for Minnesotans. Counseling and 12-step programs are abstinence-based treatment programs within outpatient or residential facility settings. Medication-Assisted Therapy helps counteract the negative withdrawal effects and cravings.


For more information about opioid misuse within Minnesota’s Black and African communities, visit our resources page.

Stories of hope

About Know the Dangers

Know the Dangers is brought to you by the Minnesota Department of Human Services in partnership with other state agencies participating in the Minnesota State Substance Abuse Strategy.

To learn more about the opioid crisis in Minnesota, use the link below to visit our website.