South Dakota sees an increase in drug abuse

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ABERDEEN - A 34 year-old Selby resident has died following a heroin overdose, and this death is just the latest in a growing drug problem here in South Dakota and across the nation.

Law enforcement is doing their part to rid the streets of drug trafficking. But who is helping the growing number of addicts who buy and use the drugs?

"I would say it's a growing epidemic," says Jodi Hepperle, an Addiction Counselor for Avera. "Now we're seeing more of the harder drugs and that has become more of a primary focus for the patients that we see coming into treatment."

Heroin, meth and opiates have been the main drugs of choice for addicts, after abusing other substances.

"Sometimes what happens when they're not able to get the prescription pain medications because doctors are not prescribing them as much, sometimes that's what leads them to look to buying something off the streets such as heroin," says Hepperle.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says many of the drug problems in the state, start outside South Dakota.

"Much of the heroin that we're finding in South dakota is oirginating in either Oregon or Colorado," says Jackley. "We are also experiencing some cases where it's being mailed to the postal service."

So drug abuse is on the rise across the state and there is no solution in sight. But one thing that has seem success is drug court.

"These programs certainly have had their benefits, along with those programs," says Jackley. "There needs to be stronger treatment components as well as an awareness campaign to try and head this one in the very beginning especially with our youth here in South Dakota."

Hepperle says most addicts spend a month in addiction centers for their drug abuse, but it can take up to a year for more severe cases.

Jackley says the state is preparing to roll out a comprehensive anti-heroin campaign this summer to spread public health safety and awareness.