Hoffman’s death should raise heroin awareness

Noted actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman died on Sunday, the victim of a drug overdose. It wasn’t the first time a famous actor or celebrity has died, far too young, from his or her own excesses and addictions and it won’t be the last.
It is worth noting, however, that the drug that killed Hoffman was heroin. It is a dangerous, highly addictive drug that was big news in the 1950s and ’60s, but which seemed to be phased out by other drugs — cocaine, crack, methamphetamines. But it has making a comeback, with the number of users and the number of deaths climbing over the last few years.
Minnesota has not been immune. The Hennepin County Sheriff announced Tuesday that in 2013 there were 54 deaths from heroin, up from eight in 2010. It is not a long drive from Minneapolis to southern Minnesota, and experience tells us that drug problems in the Twin Cities don’t take long to filter out to rural areas.
We all need to be aware of the kind of illicit drugs that are being bought and sold in this area, and to support the efforts of groups like the Brown Lyon Redwood Renville Drug Task Force that handles most of the drug investigations in this area. The task force has endured budget cuts in the past few years that have cut the number of agents available. It may be time for local counties to reconsider whether that is being penny wise and pound foolish.

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