Metro Drug Study Shows Meth & Heroin ‘Epidemic’

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s disappointing news concerning the Twin Cities efforts to reduce illegal drug use, especially the battle against methamphetamine.

A report released by Drug Abuse Dialogues shows that meth use is as high as it’s ever been in the Twin Cities metro.

In 2005 Minnesota passed strict laws limiting access to the ingredients needed to manufacture methamphetamine.

It was effective, as meth labs, arrests and overdoses plummeted. Unfortunately, the progress to curb illicit drug use didn’t last.

“Since 2009 it’s been creeping up again and now the supply is from Mexico,” the study’s author, Carol Falkowski, said.

Falkowski has been tracking the metro’s drug trends since 1986 with Drug Abuse Dialogues.

The most recent report is alarming, as 2014 saw a record number of Twin Cities meth users getting treatment.

However, it’s not the only concern that the study discovered. There is what Falkowski calls a “dueling epidemic” taking place between heroin and pain killers.

“If you combine heroin and prescription pain killers about one-quarter of the people in treatment in the Twin Cities are there for opiates,” Falkowski said.

Part of the current problem can be attributed to the strength of the drugs. Washington County Attorney Pete Orput says meth smuggled in from Mexico is up to five times as pure as what was being produced in remote labs across the state.

“Now we’re at 80 percent pure,” Orput said. “It’s highly addictive and it’s causing havoc again.”

Orput can see it simply by looking at the overdose deaths. In his county alone on average 15 deaths a year can be attributed to meth, heroin and opiate overdoses. But what it doesn’t show is the high number of close calls.

“Three-hundred-plus trips to the emergency room to save these people. I call that an epidemic,” Orput said.

One that can and must be turned around again. According to those closest to the problem it must begin with aware parents having tough talk with their children.

More from Bill Hudson
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