Heroin Deaths In Oklahoma Increase Tenfold

Wednesday, February 18th 2015, 6:20 pm

The latest report by the Oklahoma Department of Health shows heroin deaths in the state have increased tenfold in five years.

Heroin addiction is becoming a big problem on the national scale especially on the east coast. Although it's nothing like that here, law enforcement says they are seeing an increase on the streets.

At the NAIC recovery center in Norman they treated 14 people for heroin addiction last year.

“It takes a lot for people to come in for treatment. So we're only seeing those that actually need help,” said Teresa Collado, the Executive Director of NAIC. 

The most recent numbers on unintentional poisoning from the Oklahoma Health Department show 27 people died from heroin in 2013 and 29 in 2012. Back in 2007, that number was less than five.

Read the report from the Oklahoma Health Department.

“It's important, especially for the health department to monitor these trends over time, so we can kind of stay ahead of any sort of changes,” said Clair Nguyen, MS an Epidemiologist who worked on the report.

The number of heroin deaths is far below the 321 people who died of Oxycodone or Hydrocodone overdoses last year. But those changes could come as law enforcement cracks down on doctors who over-prescribe, and heroin is becoming cheaper and easier to get.

“We're keeping a close eye on it because, as the supply of prescription drugs dwindles, people may be switching to heroin. So we want to make sure and be ahead of that curve,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen says they aren't jumping to conclusions since the numbers are so small, but will keep an eye on the trend and if needed use the numbers to plan their prevention efforts.

“The dangerous part of heroin is you don't know what you're getting and you don't know what's mixed in with the heroin and that could make it extremely dangerous where you could die immediately,” explained Collado.

The number one drug from overdoses last year was methamphetamine, 178 people died from overdoses.