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

Opioids in Tribal Communities in Minnesota

Although American Indians comprise roughly 1% of the state’s population, this community accounts for roughly 15% of the Minnesotans who received treatment for opioid use disorder.

Everyone can play a role in supporting our Tribal 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

From 1999 to 2014, American Indian communities in Minnesota had overdose rates nearly five times higher than white Minnesotans, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. American Indians were also 8.7 times more likely than whites to be diagnosed with maternal opioid use disorder during pregnancy. American Indian infants are 7.4 times more likely to be born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

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 the 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 American Indians are dying from, and using prescription and illicit opioids to self-medicate, 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 supports
  • Lack of access to culturally responsive treatment programs
  • Lack of trust with modern Western medicine interventions
  • Failure to appropriately diagnose physical or mental health symptoms
  • Lack of research about the effectiveness of interventions within American Indian 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.


For more information about opioid misuse within Tribal communities in Minnesota, 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.