I knew the drug problem in Duluth was bad, but I never realized it was this bad.  These kids and young adults have to be in an extremely dark place to be able roll an overdosing friend outside, just so they don’t get caught getting high.  My sincerest appreciation goes out to the law enforcement officers, the emergency responders, and the medical community who are facing this crisis head-on.  Thank you for all you do.  To the professionals, families, and neighborhoods dealing with our drug crisis
.  – Chuck Horton

 

A man is overdosing on heroin. The girl he’s shooting up with doesn’t want to get caught so she rolls him out into the hallway of her apartment building. A short distance away another man is overdosing and forced outside to collapse on the sidewalk.

Though both men are reported to 911, neither can hang on until help arrives. They both die. Sound like a sad beginning to a story? Wrong. That is an actual occurrence during one shift of a police ride-along. The truly sad thing is that it is not uncommon.
And it’s right here in the Twin Ports.

According to a recent article, St Louis County is viewed by the Minneapolis Drug Enforcement Agency as ground zero for heroin. (Lundy, John. “St Louis County ‘ground zero for heroin’.” Duluth News Tribune October 15, 2015.) The article’s graphics show the increase in reported/known drug overdoses to have increased from 9 in 2013 to 82 so far this year. And there are still two months left. But where is it all coming from?

Most likely the pipeline is heading north from Chicago. A few weeks ago they had a massive overdosing epidemic that is thought to be caused from heroin laced with the narcotic fentanyl. Seventy five people in 72 hours required emergency medical treatment from the deadly drug. Because of the double and triple doses of the antidote Narcan they were given, many of the victims survived.

During the same period three people in Superior weren’t that lucky. On one routine day-shift there were three ODs who didn’t make it. They were likely using the same tainted batch that plagued Chicago. An officer with the department indicated that the problems are increasing at disturbing rates. The users don’t care if it’s day or night, if someone is in trouble they get pushed outside.

When asked about how kids were getting such easy access to heroin, the officer was very straightforward. He is convinced that all of their local property crime is drug related. Many of the females looking to buy either steal to get it or trade for sex. With all of the human trafficking in the news, why is this aspect of the problem not being addressed? These girls don’t stand a chance without extreme intervention.

The last major outbreak of fentanyl-related deaths was between 2005 and 2007. Over a thousand people died nationwide from the fatal mix. On a typical day, Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital sees 2-3 OD cases each day. It would seem that the Twin Ports is nearing that pace with a fraction of the population.

When will we take this seriously?