Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In a rare move, Sheriffs from Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka Counties held a news conference Thursday, warning of the danger about heroin as the numbers of deaths and people seeking treatment in the metro are rising.
In Hennepin County alone, the number of deaths related to heroin overdoses jumped from eight in 2010 to 21 in 2011.
Behind the numbers, there are the stories of tragic loss. Hastings High student John Sorenson, 18, was found dead in his Hastings home. His death has been ruled a heroin overdose.
Friends are stunned. Amanda Miller said,
“It’s heartbreaking — shocking,” said friend Amanda Miller. “He never said anything about doing that kind of drug and I would never think he would be the person to use that kind of drug.”
Numbers show Minnesota teens are experimenting more with the drug. Approximately 1.4 percent of Minnesota 12th graders admitted to using heroin in 2010, compared to 0.9 percent nationally. In the first half of 2011, heroin admissions accounted for 10 percent of all admissions to treatment centers, a number that is up from 3 percent in 2000.
All three Sheriffs called prescription pain killers the gateway drugs to serious heroine abuse.
“When we see high school students trying something for the first time and they grab something out of the medicine cabinet, and sure enough they like that and the next thing you know they try heroine for the first time and they never ever wake up,” Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart said.
Small pieces of heroine, wrapped like candy, are selling on the street for $20 apiece.
Adding to the problem is that the heroine on the streets here is highly concentrated. It’s 93 percent pure heroin, which is an unusually high percentage. That means the chance of a deadly overdose is more likely.