Drug Abuse Trends in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota: June 2013

Carol Falkowski

Summary of Key Findings for the early 2012 Reporting Period:

  • There have been increases in indictors for heroin and methamphetamine.
  • Cocaine-related deaths and treatment admissions continued to decline.

Emergency Department visits

Heroin dominated the drug abuse situation in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area in 2012. Heroin-involved visits at hospital emergency departments (EDs) nearly tripled from 2004 to 2011 (from n=1,189 to n=3,493), and they rose by 54.8 percent from 2010 to 2011 alone. ED visits involving prescription narcotic analgesics more than doubled from 2004 to 2011 (from n=1,940 to n=4,836), a 149.3-percent increase. Methamphetamine-related hospital ED visits increased by 58.8 percent from 2009 to 2011. Proportions of primary methamphetamine treatment admissions increased by 18.9 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Overdose deaths

Prescription opiates also dominated the drug abuse situation in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area in 2012. From 2011 to 2012, opiate-related deaths increased in Ramsey County (from n=36 to n=45) but remained stable in Hennepin County (n=84). Reversing a continuing decline in indicators since 2005, methamphetamine indicators increased in 2012. From 2011 to 2012, methamphetamine-related deaths increased from 7 to 14 in Hennepin County and from 3 to 7 in Ramsey County.

Treatment admissions

From 2011 to 2012 in the metropolitan area, the number of heroin primary treatment admissions increased by 20.9 percent, while primary treatment admissions for other opiates fell slightly (by 6.5 percent). Admissions to addiction treatment programs for heroin accounted for 12.9 percent of all admissions to treatment in 2012, compared with 10.7 percent in 2011. Among these, 41.6 percent were individuals age 18–25. Treatment admissions for other opiates accounted for 9.5 percent of total admissions in 2011 and 9.0 percent in 2012. Still, combining these, one in five treatment admissions (21.9 percent) were for heroin or other opiates in 2012.

Poison Control Calls

The use of synthetic THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) products (cannabimimetics) and “bath salts” (substituted cathinones) continued. From 2011 to 2012, reported exposures to the Hennepin Regional Poison Center involving THC homologs increased from 149 to 157, while substituted cathinone exposures decreased from 144 to 87.

For inquiries regarding this report, contact Carol Falkowski, Epidemiology Specialist, Drug Abuse Dialogues, 364 James Court, St. Paul, MN 55115, Phone: 651–485–3187, E-mail:  carol.falkowski@gmail.com.