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WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 06, 2014, 06:25 PM

North Dakota has lowest number of deaths due to heroin use

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Drug abuse has found its way back into mainstream consciousness, after the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

By: Drew Trafton, WDAY

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Drug abuse has found its way back into mainstream consciousness, after the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Also back in the spotlight is heroin, one of the drugs found in the Oscar winner's apartment, and the apparent suspect of his overdose.

Heroin use has been on the rise in the United States since 2007, and it's making a resurgence in the F-M area as well.

However, the drug is still far off from its peak of popularity during the Vietnam era.

A time Dean Nepstead doesn't remember fondly.

Dean Nepstead, Vietnam veteran: "I spent 18 months in Vietnam, so I've seen all that. And then I have relatives brothers, sisters, they've all been in that."

Local health departments say today's users are different. as they're not necessarily making the leap to heroin from sobriety or even other illicit drugs.

They're first getting hooked on prescription pills containing opiates, the same family of drug as heroin.

A 2013 study on prescription drug abuse backs up that claim finding addiction rates twice as high as a decade ago.

However, even in light of those grim statistics, the study found that Minnesota ranked fifth lowest and North Dakota lowest, for fatalities per capita in the United States.

But for those already locked in addiction, heroin can become an attractive alternative.

Denise Peterson, Lost and Found Minister director: "Heroin is readily available on the street, it's not so expensive. You don't need a prescription for it. People will find what they need to do what they want to do."

And if you do have a loved one who is addicted, Lost and Found Ministry in Moorhead says it's vital that you step in.

Peterson: "Inaction is enabling. We ask you to intercede in your loved one's life. It's the most important, loving thing that you can do to help your loved one."

And keep your eye out for those who might be struggling, even if they appear to be highly functional.

Lisa Burns, FM resident: "It was, like, a total shock that he was a drug addict. That, you know. I mean, there's probably people that you work with that potentially has that kind of problem. "

Another sobering statistic for you, only one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder receives treatment.

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