A state expert on addiction says Minnesota needs to do a better job of monitoring prescription drug abuse, which is being blamed for an increase in heroin overdose deaths.
Carol Falkowski, director of the alcohol and drug abuse division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, says law enforcement and medical officials should be better trained to deal with prescription drug abuse.
"You have to educate doctors, you need to educate professionals and the public about medications and kids about not using other peoples' medicine," she told MPR's Morning Edition on Friday. "Certainly law enforcement is part of the equation, disposing of prescription drugs, and also prescription monitoring programs."
Falkowski also says young people who use prescription drugs often move on heroin. She says the supply found in the Twin Cities is very pure which makes it more potent.
"Even experienced users can get one of these potent batches of heroin and overdose very easily because it's just that strong of a drug and it can just stop your breathing," she said.
Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka County Sheriffs say the number of heroin-related deaths in their three metro area counties nearly tripled last year, from 16 in 2010 to 46 in 2011.
Young people who abuse prescription drugs often move on to heroin in search of a more potent high.