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Continued: Twin Cities heroin, painkiller deaths surged in first half of 2013

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 23, 2014 - 8:18 PM

“We are trying to make it real clear that we will prosecute those cases,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “I think the word does get out to some of the dealers that, ‘Hey, we’re going to come after you on this stuff.’”

State Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, whose daughter died of a heroin overdose in 2007, has proposed a bill that would allow law enforcement to carry naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. “It’s a lifesaver,” she said.

“We have such a pure form here,” she said. “It’s virtually uncut. People who are used to doing heroin, even experienced people, are overdosing because the stuff is so pure.”

Eaton’s bill would also make it easier for users to call for help, protecting them from prosecution for things found at the scene of an emergency brought on by an overdose.

Eaton expects her bill to come up for a vote this session. “It seems to me to be a no-brainer,” she said.

‘That’s how it starts’

Lee, of Hazelden’s youth facility, said the public can’t be warned enough about throwing out unused prescription painkillers.

“They all start the same way,” he said of the young addicts he treats. “Their dentist gave them Vicodin for wisdom teeth surgery and they started taking it, and they liked it, so they took more. That’s how it starts.”

Becky Scheig, who lost her son Andrew to a heroin overdose on March 5 of last year, said she recently spoke to one of his friends who is in treatment and has been clean for three months, she said.

He told her that it’s harder to find prescription painkillers, possibly because of efforts to empty medicine cabinets of unused medicines. But he also told her that “heroin is even more available,” she said.

 

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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  • Jimmie Mayer paused as he talked about his drug addiction at his home in Cedar, Minn., on Nov. 6, 2013. Mayer had overdosed on heroin and was found in his bedroom. Now he is on the road to recovery.

  • Drug deaths

    Hennepin County 2012 Jan.-June 2013

    Opiates 84 69

    Cocaine 18 16

    Methamphetamine 14 7

    Ramsey County 2012 Jan.-June 2013

    Opiates 45 22

    Cocaine 3 4

    Methamphetamine 7 4

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