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Heroin deaths surpass cocaine in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (WSAU-Wheeler News)   There’s another sign that heroin has become the drug-of-choice among users in Wisconsin. The Journal Sentinel says that for the first time, more people in Milwaukee County are dying from the highly-addictive heroin than from cocaine. Almost 160 drug users died from overdoses last year in the state’s largest county. 38 of those deaths were caused solely from heroin, and 34 died from cocaine.

It was not that many years ago when a teenage heroin death in the Milwaukee suburbs was a major Wisconsin news story because of its rarity. Now, the drug and its lethal effects have gone statewide. Waukesha County recorded 13 heroin-related deaths last year, after having just two deaths in 2010.

In central Wisconsin, Marathon County sheriff’s investigator Gary Schneck recently said that more drug users turned to heroin after the makers of pain-killers added time-release coatings to medicines like Oxycontin to cut down on their abuse. Other experts agree that prescription drug abuse often leads to heroin abuse. They say heroin deaths would be even higher if it wasn’t for Narcan, an anti-dote which has saved many abusers – but not all.