Duluth City Council tackles opiate epidemic

By KBJR News 1

October 28, 2013 Updated Oct 28, 2013 at 10:31 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - It's being called an opiate epidemic by people in Duluth who see the rising problems of heroin use first hand.

On Monday, the city council heard from the Duluth Police Chief and concerned members of the community regarding the recent string of crime related to heroin use.

Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says the rise in heroin use over the past few years is related to two factors.

Chief Gordon Ramsay says drug trafficking organizations out of Detroit have been identified as supplying pills by the thousands to the Twin Ports.

His department also began seeing a significant increase in the abuse of prescription opiates back in 2010.

Concerns from Fifth District Councilor Jay Fosle prompted Monday's open public forum to address what Fosle called a growing problem in, and around Duluth.

Chief Ramsay identified young adults between the age 18 to 25 as the biggest abusers of prescription opiates and says their growing addiction to the prescription drug is leading to a rise in brown heroin use in the Twin Ports.

From former users to city leaders, many voiced their concerns before the council tonight on the problem and what it'll take to put a stop to it.

"I became a heroin addict in 1994 and the Chief of Police tonight had touched on a lot of really, really good things and talked about cross addiction as well," said Leslie McCabe, former heroin addict.

"Heroin has literally destroyed my son's life. We cannot trust him, no one believes him or wants him around. He has no sober friends and after four years of using, his criminal activity due to his addiction are catching up with him," said Jodie Blegen, mother of a heroin addict.

"Should we try to do something to engage the medical community in a discussion about prescribing these drugs," said councilor Sharla Gardner.

Ramsay also stressed that heroin's growing popularity is a nationwide trend, and many police departments are working to bring awareness to the issue by holding similar informational meetings.

Chief Ramsay is asking people to be vigilant and report any activity that they see as suspicious.

He says a number of recent busts, including one last week that resulted in seven arrests, have stemmed from calls from concerned neighbors.

Jeremy Brickley
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