For the first time, a study of local heroin addicts — all in treatment — takes a look inside their lives: When they began using drugs, how they got into heroin, who their influences were and why they decided to get treatment.
Northfield physician Kristine Matson conducted the study. And though the number of subjects was small, Matson believes there is much to be learned from her research.
Six months ago, Charles Reznikoff’s Northfield patients fell into two specific groups: Those in treatment for addiction to prescription pain medications and a cohort of 25- to 27-year olds and their siblings being treated for heroin abuse.
By the first of the year, Reznikoff was dealing with another cohort of patients: Teenage heroin addicts with no connection to what the opiate addiction specialist often refers to as the 84-85ers. It’s a change that troubles the physician who works part-time in the city’s Northfield Hospital clinic.
I’ve heard from some young people (twenty-somethings) this week that one of their friends committed suicide and other died of a heroin overdose.
I’m not providing names of the deceased, as I’ve not talked directly with their immediate families. Please refrain from referring to them by name in the comments.
The sad events prompted one of them to ask via email:
This is now the third person I have at least been acquainted with that has died due to this drug. This news comes shortly after hearing about another of my peers passing away due to suicide. The fifth person I know since I graduated in 2005. Three of my classmates or 1% of the 2005 graduating class have also committed suicide since graduation.
Which leads me to ask the question, "Does growing up in Northfield lead you to have a higher risk of depression?" Can you run a story on what options there are in or around Northfield for at-risk youth. Honestly, something has to be done.
Seven Rice County residents accused of dealing heroin are awaiting second hearings after arraignments at Rice County District Court on Monday morning.
Some arraignments occurred in courtroom 2, where Judge Thomas Neuville presided, and some in courtroom 3, where Judge Bernard E. Borene presided. The judges set bail of varying amounts for each of the defendants.
Alexander Bruce Benson, 19, of 300 Aster Dr., Northfield, is facing two charges of aiding and/or abetting in the sale of heroin on Sept. 29 near Greenvale Apartments on Greenvale Avenue, which is a public housing zone, and one charge of aiding and/or abetting the sale of heroin.
The apartment complex was home to Jillian Marie Wetzel, 25, who authorities determined died of an accidental heroin overdose on Aug. 23. Wetzel’s death by overdose was the most recent of five of such fatalities to occur in Northfield in the past year and a half.
And one thing I was never completely confident of was the breadth of the “problem.” I could never really get an answer, even after I began working here, on the veracity of Smith’s numbers. He said that as many as 250 young people were abusing opiates in Northfield. I’m pretty confident now that he was right.
Reporters Suzanne Rook, David Henke and I have interviewed dozens of individuals on both sides of the battle: those who either knew of someone or themselves took or sold heroin and OxyContin (a pharmaceutical opiate) and those who were trying to save the abusers. We’ve spoken with medical officials, school officials, state health officials, county health and public safety officials and statisticians.
Here are the links to the Northfield News ‘Heroin One year later’ series of stories (final six not yet published):
D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) “… is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.”
In City Administrator Al Roder’s weekly memo for Dec. 17-21:
On 12-14-2007 Northfield Police Department interviewed police officers that had expressed an interest of becoming DARE instructors. Northfield Schools and Northfield Police Department Captains conducted the interviews. Northfield Police Department Officers Blaine Anderson and Paul Haider were selected. The officers will attend state sponsored training from January 7 until January 18, 2008. Northfield Police Department officers will run the first ever DARE program in the Northfield school district starting in February 2008. This program has been put together with cooperation from Northfield Schools and Northfield Police Department.
Numerous studies have been done on the program since its inception in 1983 in urban Los Angeles. The most well-known of these conclude two things: that DARE doesn’t do much to keep kids away from drugs and alcohol, and that it helps form a bond between students and law enforcement. But eight months after the city was rocked by the news of possible drug use problems, Northfield can scarcely afford to do nothing.
I take issue with the last sentence of the editorial.
“…possible drug use problems”? I say our town definitely has drug abuse problems.
The Carletonian published its first issue of the year on Friday and their lead article was Northfield’s heroin story, along with an accompanying interview of a former addict. (This first issue is not yet available via their online service but these photos I took of the paper are large enough to make the text readable. Click to enlarge.)
Left and center: Chief of Police’s heroin claims cause controversy; Right: A former Northfield High School heroin addict offers perspective.
Two other Northfielders have publicly weighed in on the heroin issue recently. Left: Dale Snesrud, former co-owner of the Olympus Athletic Club, wrote a letter to the Northfield News titled Holy discontent with heroin. Right: Craig Ellingboe, Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, preached a sermon title “Holy Discontent” on Aug. 26 that Dale references in his letter. Keep reading for the full text of their remarks.
We’ve been getting some heat for our handling of the heroin story.
More precisely, I’m getting heat, for example Anne Bretts here, John Thomas here and here, Frank Anderson here on LG and here on N.org. There are probably others I’ve missed. I’m sure many others of you have criticisms that you’ve not expressed, either because you’re shy or you think I’ll bite your heads off.
So let me address the chonology of events and then let’s discuss whatever else. And despite the photo of my two black eyes from a few years back (click to enlarge), I’m not prone to violence or defensiveness. I’ve got a pretty thick skin so no need to be gentle with your criticisms.
Was this citizen journalism? I think much of it was. And some members of the mainstream media have seen what’s been going on here on Locally Grown and realized that between the citizens blogging and the citizens commenting, we’ve managed to offer something unique and valuable that can’t easily be done otherwise.
But I could be wrong, so Anne, John, Frank, and others, please repost (copy/paste is fine) your criticisms and I’ll address them. Others (Ross and Tracy, too!), chime in as you see fit.