The opioid reckoning in Minnesota

a book cover next to an author's headshot
Amy Sullivan is the author of "Opioid Reckoning: Love, Loss, and Redemption in the Rehab State" published by the University of Minnesota Press in October.
Book cover courtesy of University of Minnesota Press. Author photo courtesy of Lucia Possehl.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some heartbreaking statistics. Not about COVID-19, but about drug overdose deaths, which reached a new record high during the pandemic.

In the 12 months between May 2020 to April 2021, over 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States. Three-quarters of those deaths were from opioids, the class of drugs that include heroin, prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. That’s an almost 30 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from the previous 12 months. 

MPR News host Angela Davis talks to a history professor whose new book is about the opioid epidemic, an addiction doctor and a drug counselor about the devastating toll of opioid addiction and new approaches in treatment. 


  • Amy C. Sullivan is a visiting assistant professor at Macalester College and author of “Opioid Reckoning: Love, Loss, and Redemption in the Rehab State.”

  • Dr. Emily Brunner is an addiction medicine physician at Workit Health, a telemedicine company that offers medication treatment for opioid addiction. She’s also on the board of directors for the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

  • Yussuf S. Shafie is a licensed clinical social worker and a drug and alcohol counselor. He’s CEO and treatment director at the Alliance Wellness Center in Bloomington that offers multicultural mental health services and addiction treatment with a focus on East African communities. 

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