Twin Cities heroin problem continues to grow

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In the Anoka County suburb of St. Francis, dozens of parents piled into the middle school Thursday night to launch an effort to combat an alarming heroin problem, KSTP reported.

Law enforcement says the number of deaths due to heroin overdoses in the county has tripled in the last two years. The most recent death was 20-year-old Robert McCullough of Andover. His funeral was held Monday.

Young adults, ages 18 to 25, are the target market for the drug that's becoming more and more available in suburban neighborhoods. Not only is it easy to find, authorities have also found Minnesota has some of the purest and cheapest heroin in the country -- a lethal combination for young people.

Hennepin County leads the metro in heroin deaths with 43 so far this year, the television station said. The problem is widespread, ranging from the Twin Cities to Duluth to western Wisconsin.

"We're experiencing challenges in the suburbs because people don't want to admit it could happen to them, it could happen in their community, it could happen in their schools and it could happen to their kids. People don't want to admit that and it's part of the problem," Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart told KSTP.

A group of 20 St. Francis residents recently formed a coalition to raise awareness about heroin's risks and to teach parents how to step in if they suspect their kids are abusing the drug.

In September, the state unveiled a campaign to strengthen drug-prevention efforts using schools, drug courts, correctional facilities, the medical community and family-based counseling.

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