Reporting Holly Wagner
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The abuse of heroin along with prescription drugs in the Twin Cities has risen dramatically in last 10 years.
New information out Tuesday from the Minnesota Department of Human Services shows the number of people being treated for heroin addiction is right behind those being treated for alcohol.
Treatment for heroin and other opiate addictions accounted for nearly 11 percent of treatment admissions last year. That’s compared with roughly 3 percent in the year 2000.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marvin Seppala of Hazelden Addiction and Treatment Center calls it an epidemic, especially among young people.
The number of teens and young adults they treat for heroin and opiate abuse has nearly tripled in the last decade.
Dr. Seppala says young people are increasingly experimenting with this extremely dangerous drug, that has a high death rate, and they don’t understand the risks they’re taking.
Kim Ruzynski is in recovery after abusing pain pills and heroin for eight years.
“You lie, you cheat, your whole outlook becomes something you’re not,” she said.
When she wanted her fix, she knew how to get it.
“I don’t think there’s been an emergency room in Minnesota I haven’t been in to,” she said.
The mother of three got hooked when she was 26 years old, after the birth of her third child.
A doctor prescribed her the drug Percocet for severe headaches.
Kim says her addiction manifested from there.
“It’s not even that you want to do it. There was days I woke up and thought ‘I’m done, I’m going to quit. I’m never doing this again.’ Your body is like, ‘Oh yes, you are,’” she said.
The number of people going through what Kim did is rising at an alarming rate.
“It’s extremely destructive and life altering,” Dr. David Frenz said.
He says he continues to treat more people in their teens and early to middle 20s for opiate abuse.
Half of their inpatient beds at St. Joseph’s Hospital Clinic are filled with heroin and opiate addicts.
He says the widespread availability of pain pills coupled with the purity of the heroin being sold in Minnesota is adding to the growing numbers.
“People are calling everyday desperately wanting to get in to treatment, but there is a lack of resources, which worries me,” he said.
Dr. Frenz says the people who need help are outpacing the treatment that’s available.
And opiate addiction is one of the most difficult to treat — many people relapse and some overdose.
“You really really gotta want to quit,” Kim said.
Kim is now 40 years old and has a totally different life. She has a full-time job with the Timberwolves and Lynx, she’s a proud parent, and grandparent, and she’s healthy.
Kim says addiction is not her in family. She had never done drugs, and barely drank alcohol.
She says one prescription of Percocet was all it took.
Both doctors we spoke with on Tuesday told us many of the young people who become addicted often start my taking prescription pills from their parents medicine cabinet, or from a friend, some are athletes prescribed medicine for pain.
For more informational, check out these links: http://www.healtheast.org/st-joes/programs-services/behavioral-care.html