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Give the gift of help and hope

Dec. 12, 2019

Packages of seized drugs

Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up, and not one of them will say, “I want to be a drug addict.” It’s just not something anyone thinks they will ever be. And yet people die of overdoses from illicit drugs every day. When addicts are asked whether they ever thought they’d find themselves in such a situation, the answer is a resounding “no.”

And that’s exactly the sort of attitude that mid- to upper-level drug dealers prey upon: You’ll keep coming back, despite your better judgment. Your tolerance will build, so you’ll need a bigger dose to achieve the same high. That’s not a sustainable system; sooner or later, the dose will kill you. But all the dealers care about is making a buck.

A look at the first three quarters of this year’s drug seizures will tell you that the problem of illicit drugs isn’t going away. For example, from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 this year, a record-breaking 1,145 pounds of meth was seized by law enforcement across the state (2018’s number was 1,146, but that was for the entire year, not just nine months). In case you don’t have a sense of how much that is, it’s about 2,080,658 doses of meth. These days, meth isn’t coming from here in Minnesota. Whereas authorities were shutting down as many as 410 meth labs per year in the 2000s, it has been fewer than 10 per year since 2010. Today’s meth is mainly coming from Mexico.

Another product of Mexican drug cartels that is invading Minnesota’s streets is commonly known as “Mexi-oxy.” It mimics the effect of the prescription opioid painkiller oxycodone, with one important and often lethal difference: It is often laced with fentanyl. Given that fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, it doesn’t take much to overdose. And since there is no way to know how much (if any) fentanyl is in a pill you get off the street, there is essentially no safe dose for street drugs.

Authorities seized 234 pounds of marijuana concentrates in the first nine months of 2019, compared to 160 for all of 2018. One of the big seizures this year came in the form of THC vape cartridges – THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. These cartridges are sold legally in some states, so in some cases they’re being brought into Minnesota from elsewhere, such as the 77,000 seized in Anoka County in September. But some are being made here for the black market. The tricky part about THC cartridges is that they don’t smell the same as marijuana, so it’s hard to know when someone – your child, for example – is smoking it.

There’s a lot more to say about what the drug seizure numbers reveal, but the most important thing to realize is that every dose tells a story. And in too many cases, that story is about addiction, isolation, and despair. If there is someone in your life who is struggling with substance abuse, helping them get into treatment can be the ultimate gift. There are resources available, including your local treatment facility, family healthcare provider, or local law enforcement, that can help your loved one take that first step back to health.