Minneapolis Heroin Epidemic

Morgan Sheehy, staff writer

Many citizens of the Minneapolis metropolitan area have succumbed to the abuse of heroin, methamphetamine, and other illegal drugs;the use of these drugs is now more common than that of marijuana. “The Heroin Epidemic” has been been an issue in the city for quite some time, but the spotlight is now on a small section of Minneapolis, Little Earth of United Tribes, an area at the forefront of American Indian migration to urban Minnesota.

In the first week of December alone, local police responded to over 32 cases of overdose-related emergency calls in the Little Earth community alone, twice the record from previous years. In reality, these numbers are even higher than the records since not every suspected overdose is responded too, and a majority of overdoses go unreported.

But drug abuse is not just confined inside the Little Earth boundaries. Overdoses are storming the city and putting hundreds on their deathbed. It is not just heroin, it is all kinds of drugs: meth, heroin, and prescription pills. Overdoses have more than doubled, from 95 accounts to over 235 in just one week.

Those that have studied the outbreak predicted that the upsurge in drug abuse is due to the fact that the demand for opioids, not just locally but nation-wide, has erupted especially among youth. It is a vicious cycle, starting with prescribed drugs that can easily be found in a parent’s medicine cabinet (drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin or Percocet), the desire for a stronger yet more affordable high takes over, leading to a life of danger and addiction.

In Little Earth, one does not have to travel farther than their next door neighbor to satisfy their bad habit. Residents can get illegally obtained prescription drugs, cocaine, marijuana, and meth at any time of the day. As the lives of many are hurt by the epidemic daily, the board of Little Earth has decided that enough is enough. Officials started providing an overdose antidote kit to the people, funded by a federal grant. Citizens are being taught how to use the kits in order to effectively help someone who has overdosed if a first-responder cannot get there fast enough.

The antidote, in a spray form, contains Naloxone. Naloxone works  by blocking receptors in the brain that accept the drug, and then stimulates the respiratory system. Households that hold the antidote are marked with a purple ribbon, but the supply is limited and can barely keep up with the overdoses.

Heroin addictions have reached epidemic proportions here in the Twin Cities, and the body count is disturbingly high. The number of lives affected by the drug, and the people consumed in its side-effects, are leaving hundreds of children orphaned and many families in a state of mourning. Homelessness in the Twin Cities is at an all time high due to the epidemic, especially among families and children. If we do not get this under control, Minneapolis is in for continuous tragedy in the future.