According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heroin use has increased significantly over the past ten years in the United States. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose fatalities nearly quadrupled, resulting in more than 8,200 deaths. Heroin users include both men and women in all age groups and income levels.
A Heroin Epidemic in the Twin Cities
In Minnesota, heroin addiction has reached epidemic levels. As heroin use reaches an all-time high in the Twin Cities, a drug attorney St. Paul sees steady increases in felony drug offenses. According to a Minneapolis/St. Paul report on drugs, more people are getting treatment in area hospitals for heroin addiction than ever before, with the largest group of users shown as white males in their 20s.
In 2015, Minnesota law enforcement took 18 pounds of heroin off the streets. This number represents three times the amount of heroin seized in 2012 and a street value of more than $1 million. As heroin use continues to escalate, so do fatal overdoses.
In Northern Minnesota communities, heroin overdoses killed seven people and put dozens more in the hospital in 2015. In Hennepin, Scott and Dakota Counties, 53 people died from heroin overdoses in 2015. In Ramsey County, a drug attorney St. Paul often sees an alarming link between young heroin addicts and serious drug crimes in the Twin Cities. In young adults age 18 to 25, heroin use has more than doubled in the past decade.
Reducing the Heroin Epidemic in Minnesota
According to the CDC, heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug. Heroin use can cause slow, shallow breathing and coma, with a high risk of overdose and death. Statistics show that nearly all heroin users are addicted to at least one other drug, and some are addicted to as many as three other drugs. Drug studies also show that people addicted to opioid prescription painkillers are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin, and people addicted to cocaine are 15 times more likely to be addicted to heroin.
To prevent heroin addiction and fatal overdoses, the CDC recommends the following:
- Reduce addiction to opioid prescriptions drugs. Many heroin users abuse prescription painkillers before becoming addicted to heroin.
- Treat heroin addiction with a combination of medications, behavioral therapy and addiction counseling.
- Expand the use of naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of a fatal heroin overdose, if given in time.