Overdose deaths from heroin and other opiates fell in Hennepin County last year for the first time since 2010, according to a local drug trends report issued Monday.
The drugs killed 102 people last year, a 23 percent drop from the previous year’s tally of 132 victims, said Carol Falkowski, a drug use researcher who publishes an annual report on Twin Cities drug trends.
“It’s a lot of good news,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who has been among local law enforcement leaders working to combat the rise in heroin use.
Stanek’s office has held multiple town meetings across the county about opiate addiction and set up collection boxes for unused medications; prescription painkillers are one of the primary routes for people to become addicted to opiates and, eventually, heroin.
Heroin use remains high, according to drug treatment program admissions. Ramsey County saw heroin overdose deaths rise from 37 in 2013 to 42 last year.
Also from the report: Methamphetamine use rose last year to surpass levels recorded during the peak of the drug’s epidemic a decade ago.
The plentiful supply coming up from Mexico is likely to blame, said Falkowski.
“The source of meth is now Mexico, not little trailers down by the river,” she said. Meth seizures along the U.S.-Mexico border have quintupled since 2009, she added.
Some 2,593 patients seeking drug counseling in Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota and Washington counties needed help due to meth, she said.
The use of some synthetic drugs like so-called “bath salts” appears to be diminishing, but several drugs — including MDMA, 2C-E or “research chemicals,” and NBOMe or “N-bomb” — each caused deaths in the Twin Cities last year.