Drug overdose deaths surge in St. Joseph County as heroin, prescription painkiller use rises

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Drug overdose deaths in northern Indiana’s St. Joseph County outnumbered the county’s total deaths from homicides and fatal vehicle crashes last year.

The increase comes amid a dramatic surge in deaths attributed to heroin and prescription painkillers.

The South Bend Tribune reports that St. Joseph County saw 59 people die from accidental drug overdoses last year. That compares with 2015’s combined total of 57 vehicle crash deaths and homicides.

Alcohol and Addictions Resource Center counselor Sharon Burden calls the 59 overdose deaths “an outrageously high number.”

Coroner Randy Magdalinski says many of those deaths happened in clusters, just days apart.

Statistics show those deaths were just a fraction of the county’s drug overdoses. South Bend first responders last year used the antidote naloxone to revive 265 people suspected of overdosing on opiates.

Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

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