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Law Enforcement Officials Report Increase in Heroin, Opioid Drug Abuse

Rapid City Police Department

So far, the datashows South Dakota has largely been immune to the opioid drug abuse epidemic affecting other areas of the country.  In 2014, only one death resulted from a heroin overdose in the state.

Now, law enforcement officials in Rapid City and Sioux Falls are reporting an increase in heroin and other opioid drug use.  Since the start of 2016, at least ten South Dakotans have died from opioid overdoses.

Kevin Thome is the Pennington County Sheriff. He says the increase in heroin abuse isn’t just a local problem.

“And the rest of the state is seeing an impact in terms of overdoses and quantity of heroin seized and frequency of seizures and arrests related to heroin. In terms of what do we do as a community, I think it’s important that family, friends, if you have somebody you know that has a drug problem particularly this recent round of heroin overdoses that we’ve had and other drug related overdoses is get them into treatment, get them some help, intervene,” says Thome.

Sioux Falls officials agree that opioid drugs are an increasing problem. Kyle Hoekstra is a lieutenant with the Sioux Falls Police Department. He says local law enforcement is looking to stay ahead of heroin so that it doesn’t impact the community like other drugs have.

“By all means I think we’re just trying to remain proactive against narcotics as a whole because we know the effects it has on the community, and when we look at, like especially meth within our community and the toll that it’s taken, obviously we don’t want another drug to come in such as heroin to also get that death grip on our community,” says Hoekstra.

Both Hoekstra and Thome say those who died from opioid overdoses in Sioux Falls and Rapid City were from a variety of age groups, genders and economic backgrounds. Thome adds that this type of drug addiction targets all people.