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Continued: Hennepin County heroin fears surge with deaths, ODs

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 8, 2013 - 10:07 PM

For Amanda, 29, of Pine City, drug addictions morphed from cigarettes and alcohol to prescription pills and heroin.

“I was just digging a deeper, bigger hole for myself,” Amanda, who declined to use her last name, said at Thursday’s news conference.

Her family ties became strained, she stole to make ends meet and she resorted to living out of a garage with her boyfriend as they shot up 80-mg pills of OxyContin every day, arriving high at her job as a hair stylist. In debt and with no place to turn, she entered Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge in Minneapolis. She’s now nine months sober, hoping to graduate from the program this fall.

“It’s definitely changed my life,” she said.

‘Such an unpredictable drug’

Heroin users come from all economic backgrounds and everywhere from the affluent west metro suburbs to rural Minnesota. According to state data released earlier this year, most patients admitted for heroin overdoses in Minnesota in 2012 were white and between 18 to 25 years old; men outnumber women three to one. In Dakota County, of seven heroin deaths last year, most were men, three were in their 40s and the rest ranged in age from 18 to their 30s, Sheriff Dave Bellows said.

But a strong stigma remains associated with heroin, preventing some from speaking out, Laura Moore said. “There are a lot more families touched by this, but it’s so devastating … you know that your child was so much more than this one dose of heroin that killed him,” she said.

Although she tracked down the dealer who sold the heroin to her son, she was told the county wouldn’t have enough evidence to prosecute him. Now, she wants other young adults to know that using heroin at all can be deadly.

“It’s such an unpredictable drug,” she said, her voice breaking as she spoke of her son’s death. “As a parent, it’s the guilt of, what did I miss? I didn’t get to help him. I didn’t get to put him through treatment. I didn’t get to give him a chance.”

 

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib

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