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Heroin deaths fall in Minneapolis, but cheap highs present problem for police

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The number of people dying from heroin overdoses in Minneapolis and the surrounding area fell by almost 11 percent in 2014, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff said there were 50 deaths in the county as a result of heroin, compared to 56 in 2013, which was the county's deadliest year on record.

But considering just eight people died from a heroin overdose in 2010, the Sheriff's Office said there is still a long way to go to get a proper grip on the problem.

One of the main issues facing authorities is that heroin in the Twin Cities is "inexpensive and has one of the highest purity levels in the U.S.," a combination that is contributing to overdose deaths as users can get their hands on cheap, but powerful narcotics.

"This is a step in the right direction," Sheriff Rick Stanek said. "But there is still a substantial amount of work to be done in order to combat this trend.

"Even one life lost to heroin is too many, which is why we will continue aggressive enforcement efforts along with community outreach focused on education and prevention."

WCCO reports that the rise in heroin use seen since 2010 is linked to the abuse of opiate-based painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, which can lead users to heroin once prescriptions run out.

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