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2014 statistics: Heroin-related deaths outpace traffic deaths in Milwaukee County

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) -- The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office revealed on Wednesday, February 18th that heroin-related deaths in the county increased 72 percent from 2013 to 2014.

"It's very scary to know that there's still this much incidents out there and still this much prevalence of that drug," said Sara Schreiber, Technical Forensic Director at the medical examiner's office.

Look at the statistics comparing heroin-related deaths with those of motor vehicle accidents and homicide between 2005 and 2014. In 2013, heroin deaths overtake motor vehicle deaths for the first time. Then last year, heroin deaths overtake both of the other categories -- jumping 72 percent.

Officials say the average age of a heroin victim was 39 years old. The oldest victim was 80 years old -- and the youngest, just 19 years old.

"It's astonishing to know that there is that wide of a spread. Many people think it's just a younger person's drug," said Schreiber.

Why are we seeing more deaths? Schreiber suggests this -- heroin is readily available in the central city or suburbs and that it costs less than prescription drugs. But she says there are also the many unknowns.

"You don't know who's handled it before you. You don't know what's cut into that powder before you use it. There's so much unknown into the purity and content that it just makes it a really dangerous substance to use and abuse," said Schreiber.

Most EMT, medical units and law enforcement officers are equipped with Narcan. It's a drug that if used in time, can reverse some of the effects of heroin overdose.

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