Use of synthetic drugs on the rise in MinnesotaThe latest emerging drug trend in the Twin Cities is the rising abuse of synthetic drugs, according to the most recent drug trends report issued by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
The latest emerging drug trend in the Twin Cities is the rising abuse of synthetic drugs, according to the most recent drug trends report issued by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).
According to “Drug Abuse Trends in Minneapolis/St. Paul: 2010,” substances are sold online and in “head shops” as incense, (synthetic THC), bath salts (mephedrone) or research chemicals. In truth, they are designed and manufactured for humans to consume for their psychoactive effects that mimic the effects of illegal party drugs.
Also in the report:
--Calls to the Regional Poison Center for bath salts grew from six in 2010 to 26 in in the first quarter of 2011.
--N-benzylpiperazine (BZP) was among the top 10 drugs most frequently seized by law enforcement in the metro area in 2010, according to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System.
--In March 2011, 11 users of 2C-E were hospitalized with adverse effects; one person died.
--Two girls at a suburban high school were transported to the hospital by ambulance after eating cookies made with synthetic THC.
While the numbers of users of synthetic drugs is difficult to ascertain, the numbers appear to be increasing, according to Carol Falkowski, drug abuse strategy officer for DHS and author of the report.
“These are no longer rare, isolated incidents. A pattern of use is emerging with synthetic drugs,” she said. “Young people are attracted to them because the effects are extreme and glamorized and they can be purchased online. Many young people think that if something is purchased on the Internet, it is somehow safe. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
While synthetic drugs are appearing with greater frequency, the abuse of heroin and prescription narcotics remained at heightened levels in 2010, although there may be signs of a slight slowdown. For the first time in a decade, addiction treatment admissions for heroin and other opiates did not rise in 2010, and deaths fell from 113 in 2009 to 92 in 2010. At the same time, in Hennepin County alone, 9 percent of adult males arrested tested positive for opiates compared with only 4.7 percent in 2007.
Cocaine-related indicators continued their decline in 2010. Cocaine was the primary substance abuse problem for 5.7 percent of total treatment admissions in 2010 compared with 14.4 percent in 2005. Also in 2010, 19.8 percent of the adult males arrested in Hennepin County tested positive for cocaine, compared with 27.5 percent in 2007.
The report also found:
--Marijuana treatment admissions still accounted for more addiction treatment admissions than those for any other illicit drug in the Twin Cities, with 3,578 admissions in 2010 (18.3 percent of total).
--The average age of first marijuana use for persons receiving treatment for marijuana was 14.1 years.
--Khat is a plant indigenous to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula that is used for its stimulant effects. It maintained a persistence presence with the Somali immigrant community.
--Statewide, narcotics task forces seized more than 1,000 pounds of khat in 2010.
The drug trends report is prepared as part of an epidemiological drug abuse monitoring network comprised of drug abuse researchers in 20 U.S. cities convened by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The most recent Drug Abuse Trends Report is available on the DHS website: Drug Abuse Trends: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota – June 2010 (PDF)