MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —In the aftermath of the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, some experts say the heroin problem is now an epidemic — both nationally and here in Minnesota.
Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment over the weekend. Reports say he was found with a needle in his arm and bags of heroin discovered near his body.
“We can’t overshadow the fact that there is a public health crisis that is raging across this country. Scenarios like this are playing out in families and communities with alarming regularity and increased frequency,” Scott Hesseltine, operations director at Hazelden Treatment Center, said.
Dr. Joseph Lee has seen it firsthand at Hazelden’s youth campus in Plymouth, where almost half of the patients are addicted to opiates, up from 10 percent 10 years ago.
“When parents and families hear celebrities overdosing on heroin, the story seems so far away from home, and people need to realize the story is actually in our homes and in our neighborhoods,” he said. “There are thousands of Minnesotans right now abusing prescription medications and heroin,” he said, “and they desperately need to get help.”
Hesseltine says they are seeing record numbers of people die from overdose.
“The Centers for Disease Control has classified drug overdose as an epidemic,” he said. “Some people progress into addiction like this very innocently. They may have a sports injury or have dental work done, and because of the very strong and highly reinforcing nature of these drugs on the pleasure centers of the brain, it’s very easy for someone to slip into addiction.”