Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says 54 people died of heroin overdoses in the county 2013, making it deadliest year yet for such deaths in the county, the Star Tribune reports.
The number was seven times higher than just three years prior, when eight people died from heroin overdoses, Stanek noted.
A report from Minnesota Drug Abuse Trends released in January signaled a spike in overdose deaths in Hennepin County in the first part of 2013, with 69 deaths attributed to heroin and prescription overdoses, the Star Tribune says.
In comparison, 84 people in the county died of heroin and prescription overdoses in all of 2012, the report says.
According to Stanek, investigators found heroin sales and users in suburban, rural and urban areas of Hennepin County.
Hennepin County isn’t the only county in the area facing problems with heroin abuse.
Last month, Anoka County officials kicked off a series of three forums to address the growing trend of heroin use, abuse and overdoses, as well as growing issues with opiates and prescription painkillers.
Law enforcement officials say the number of deaths due to heroin overdoses in Anoka County has tripled in the last two years.
A bill is expected be presented in the Minnesota Legislature this session that would allow first responders to administer an antidote to combat the recent surge of heroin overdose deaths.
State law currently only allows health care professionals to give Narcan to overdose victims. The proposal would allow first responders to administer the nasal version of the antidote.
Word about the heroin overdose deaths in Hennepin County comes on the heels of the high-profile death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a suspected heroin overdose on Sunday. He was 46.
Four suspects were reportedly arrested in connection with Hoffman’s death Tuesday night, CNN says.