“888 Bodies & Counting:” Jaw-dropping number of fatal drug overdoses in Milwaukee Co. alone

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MILWAUKEE -- 888 -- that's the jaw-dropping number of Milwaukee County residents who have died from heroin or opiate overdoses between 2012 and 2015.

A study released Monday, March 21st, 2016 examines the demographics and may change the way you think about this epidemic.

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

"It`s been a devastating epidemic. It`s a public health epidemic," Michael Murphy, Milwaukee Common Council president said.

Concerned with the rising number of overdose deaths in Milwaukee County, Murphy released results of a study he commissioned regarding heroin.

"Since 2005, we`ve seen a 500% increase in opiate and heroin overdose deaths," Murphy said.

Murphy said he hopes the statistics will help when it comes to education, prevention and treatment to combat the epidemic. The results of the study are eye-opening: 888 deaths between 2012 and 2015.



"It shows that the depth of the problem is worse than what we have in homicides by far. Worse than what it relates to automobile accidents," Murphy said.

Data provided by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office shows heroin claims younger white users and older black ones.



"The average age of someone dying of an overdose death is a white male, 43. A much higher percentage of white males dying - 60%," Murphy said.

Murphy said that is a contract to the "typical profile" of younger victims, and will likely go a long way towards helping officials get to the root of the problem.

Also noteworthy -- these 888 deaths show that nowhere in Milwaukee County is immune to this dangerous, deadly drug.

"There is no one location. It`s throughout the whole county," Murphy said.

Heroin gear 1

The vast majority of people who are dying -- 70% -- are overdosing inside their own homes.

Murphy said he is partnering with the Medical College of Wisconsin to look into these statistics further, and brainstorm treatment and prevention ideas.

READ IT: 888 Bodies and Counting: Overdoses in Milwaukee through December 29th, 2015.

MAP: Heroin/opioid deaths by race in Milwaukee County (White)

MAP: Heroin/opioid deaths by race in Milwaukee County (Black)

MAP: Heroin/opioid death density in Milwaukee County

GRAPH: Distribution of age ranges for overdose deaths by race/ethnicity 2012-2015

READ IT: Statement from Common Council President Michael Murphy on analysis of 888 local heroin and opiate overdose deaths yielding eye-opening results.

LEARN MORE: Wisconsin Department of Justice's "Dose of Reality" campaign.

Dose of Reality



    They should make drugs illegal, that would solve the problem. Better yet, require universal background checks to buy the drugs. I mean, that’s what they say will end gun crime, why wouldn’t it end drug crime/deaths? I say let these idiots OD themselves. If you’re too stupid to know drugs are bad for you, then why should I care?

    • Fred

      Agree 100% with total statement. You’re taught not to touch fire because it’ll burn you – in school they’re taught not to do drugs for the same reason. Tough break for the losers. This isn’t a disease, it’s bad decision making. Get them out of the taxpayers’ pockets and cut the rehab programs – put the money into music and art programs at schools.

      • jamison edmonds

        Wow, I will jump in with theses smart guys and opinions; not like that Darwinist, above (facts have no please here!) So, what we should do is BAN EVERYTHING especially gasoline (my hidden agenda save earth not opinions) as we could huff that and the DEA with incarceration no education $eem$ to be doing fine! It’s fox not fix… baaaa.

  • A yooper

    Likely were some useful people were in that group of 888 that chose to put completely uncontrolled chemicals into their systems. 800 some druggies no longer living off of my dime now. Cruel, but so is life even when making good choices.

  • Michelle

    Found it interesting to read some of the replies to this article that I had happen to find while doing research. So I think it is important to note that some people don’t realize that opiate drugs are ones you get from your doctor. Those are the pain killers that are being prescribed like candy for pain management. Many heroin users started on prescription drugs not some other street drug. Here is list of those opiate drugs most often prescribed: hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine and morphine. So for those remember that the next time your doctor hands you a prescription, you could be the next person addicted to an opiate drug.

  • Sandra Hansen

    You really want to help solve this problem, than get the insurance companies to pay for the inpatient treatment that these individuals need. My daughter Samantha is a heroin addict. We have going through this so called “out patient” treatment programs several times, at which time she relapses and the cycle of this situation repeats itself. The major problem is because she has “state” insurance who does not provide for inpatient treatment. If she had private insurance and/or if we were rich and could afford to pay for her treatment out of pocket, she would have a bed immediately. But because she doesn’t have private insurance or can’t pay $34000.00 out of pocket, she can’t get a bed, but are told she would be placed on a waiting list. No waiting list exist. Most addicts can’t hold a job long enough to obtain private insurance, so how in the world are they going to get it! And then you expect them to pay out of pocket, well sorry to inform you, but most addicts can’t keep $5.00 in there pocket but you expect them to pay $34,000.00! Seriously!!! Anyone can provide static analysis on this subject, and take credit for providing it. Yay! Congrad’s you did nothing more than provide a new death toll. If you truly want to help and make a difference with this situation, then help them get the proper inpatient treatment care they really need by forcing the insurance companies to start paying for the inpatient care. Just because they have state insurance doesn’t mean they are any less of a person or deserve less than someone who has private insurance. Yes, I am aware of these so called “outpatient” treatment centers that exist. The problem with this is very simple. If an addict starts to attend and is tested, they are dirty, they are allowed to return the next day for treatment. If they are clean, they are kicked out of the program and considered “clean”. Here is a cycle that seems to exist. I can help my daughter get clean. I can hold her hair while she is pucking, I can hug her and try to keep her warm while she gets the cold sweats, I can even talk her out of hurting herself as she goes threw her emotional highs and lows. Here’s the problem with all this. This will last for about a week and half to two weeks. Then some thing will trigger her and she will be gone. Forcing us to repeat this cycle over and over again. But I continue to call various places, continue to try to find the help that everyone claims is out there, yet there really isn’t. It doesn’t exist. So while all the brain-acks of this state are sitting around trying to brain storm other possible solutions to this problem instead of fixing the problem, people will continue to die and add to your death toll. I look forward to your next report on the death toll, cause that is every mothers dream.

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