Heroin, Prescription Drug Use Continues Grip on MN

By KBJR News 1

June 19, 2012 Updated Jun 19, 2012 at 5:57 PM CDT

Minneapolis, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- Heroin use continues to climb. In fact, a new report released Tuesday shows all levels of law enforcement across the state of Minnesota are reporting an increase in the abuse of both heroin and opiate–based prescription drugs.

LeAnn Wallace has the details.

Last year, one in five submissions to addiction treatment programs was for heroin or other opiates, second to treatment for alcohol.

The report shows that heroin accounted for almost 11% of addictions treatment in 2011, compared to 7.8 percent in 2010 and just 3.3% in 2000.

Mostly prescription painkillers represented almost 10% of treatment admissions in 2011 compared to 1.4% in 2000.

Opiate-related deaths increased in both Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. In the two counties combined, deaths rose from 92 in 2010 to 120 in 2011.

The number of people who seek medical attention for overdoses or who test positive for opiates after being arrested is also up.

While these statistics were gathered in the Twin Cities, areas of the Northland have recently seen a similar trend.

Earlier this month, the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force arrested 24 people in a major Twin Ports heroin ring.

The bust came as police investigated a string of drug overdoses and related violence and property crimes associated with opiate use.

"What we were seeing was a lot of overdose problems and often times with opiate addictions in communities, you start having huge property crimes increases, car break ins, burglaries and sometimes robberies," said Lt. Steve Stracek of the Duluth Police Department.

Northland authorities have also been busy investigating heroin trafficking along I–35.

In April, five people were arrested near Cloquet after police say the group was getting heroin from the Twin Cities and bringing it up to the Northland.

One of the reasons authorities believe they're seeing more heroin, is because it's often cheaper and in some cases easier to get than prescription pills.

The report also says that the use of synthetic compounds increased in 2011.

The number of bath salt exposures reported to the Hennepin Regional Poison Center grew from five in 2010 to 144 in 2011.