Editor's Note: Pam Renkel, Medical Assisting Program Chair, attended a "Current Trends With Heroin Use" panel discussion at Hazelden’s Chaska facility. Says Pam, "Since addiction to substances crosses all socio-economic boundaries, more information is prudent and helpful to me as an instructor in the medical assistant program." As a national nonprofit organization founded in 1949, Hazelden staff are experts in helping people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. Here are the notes from the panel discussion.
The "Current Trends with Heroin Use" panel consisted of four individuals.
Joshua Lawrenz, City of Chaska police officer, and graduate of the International Association Chiefs of Police Drug Recognition Expert, gave some startling details about heroin use statistics:
- The use of heroin in the Twin Cities has more than doubled in the past 2 years. This is estimated by the number of deaths as well as arrests.
- The cost of this opiate is low ($10.00 / hit at 2x each day) compared to the prescription opiate drugs (most sell on the street for $90.00 - $100.00/ pill) and the effects last 4-6 hours.
- The pills require the user to take the drug more often to drive off the dreaded withdrawal symptoms.
- The pureness of the heroin here (90 percent) compared to other parts of the USA (63 percent) is superior. Most youth get into this drug by smoking it or snorting it, then eventually go on to using needles.
Debbie Leas, MA LADC, evening intensive outpatient counselor at Hazelden in St.
Paul, discussed some of the problems working with clients and their families. She related the effects of social media and the ease of seekers of drugs to find them.
Dave Dubin, MA, LADC, is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor for Adolescent and Young Adult Services at Hazelden in Plymouth. He has been a clinician for 19+ years. He shared some of his own experiences as an addicted individual, as well as adding to the other discussions. He also spoke of the withdrawal symptoms and the availability of easing the symptoms with appropriate medication assistance when clients are “in-house.”
- Many youth are attaining related pain medication by stealing from family and friends.
- He admitted in his early 20’s he and his girlfriend would attend realty “open houses" to look through medicine cabinets or bedside tables to steal what they found.
The last panel member was a 19-year-old. He began using heroin at age 14 while living in Texas. Drug availability was easy living near the US/Mexico border, but said it is almost as easy to attain the drug here in the Twin Cities. He is now clean, but still works closely with Hazelden staff.