In the wake of rising overdoses and deaths, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will band together with law enforcement, state officials and drug experts at Hazelden Center in Plymouth on Sunday to highlight steps taken to combat the growing heroin use in Minnesota.
Klobuchar’s efforts stem from the alarming and record-breaking death toll in the state, where 91 people from Hennepin and Ramsey counties died of heroin or other opiates in just the first six months of last year.
Experts blame the rise in heroin use to the increased use of prescription pills such as OxyContin and Vicodin. People who abuse such medications often later turn to heroin, which can be less expensive and stronger than the pills.
Klobuchar, affected families, officers and other anti-drug advocates will gather at the Hazelden Center for Youth and Families at 2:30 p.m. to discuss policies and practices that have worked to keep drugs out of the hands of school kids and others.
Joining the meeting will be Laura Moore, who lost her son to a heroine overdose on Feb. 14, 2012, and state Sen. Chris Eaton, whose daughter died of a heroin overdose in 2007.
The meeting will also be attended by Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson; Buffalo Police Chief Mitchell Weinzetl; Hazelden Public Affairs Vice President and recovering cocaine addict William Moyers, and Drug Abuse Dialogues founder Carol Falkowski.
The effort is just the latest of several campaigns to attack an unwieldy and fast growing problem.
The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that it is stepping up enforcement, expanding partnerships with local, federal and school officials, and conducting presentations and media and marketing campaigns to fight heroin use. Anoka County lost at least 21 young people to opiate overdoses last year.
Hennepin County had 54 people die of heroin overdoses last year, a record for the county.
“It’s a very tough battle,” Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said recently.
“This isn’t just one problem for one county. It’s everywhere.”