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14 probably overdoses since Friday, Medical examiner's office alarmed by spike

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jul 29, 2019

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office has responded to fourteen probable overdose deaths since Friday.

According to the medical examiner's office, three of the fourteen deaths occurred within one hour of each other. Forensic scientist Sara Schreiber said she could not recall a time where she has seen this many overdose deaths in a short period.

"The frequency is there, the volume is there, and that’s what’s most alarming to us," Sara Schreiber said.

This year there have been 166 total drug-related deaths not including the one pending toxicology. Ninety one were from fentanyl alone or in a combination and 71were from cocaine alone or also in a mixture. The number of drug-related deaths surpassed homicides, suicides, and motor vehicle deaths combined. Last year there were 384 drug-related deaths.

"If this trend continues, we are projected to go well over 400 at the end of the year," Schreiber said.

She said it's too early to tell what drug is causing the overdose deaths, or if they are connected.

"It’s certainly a possibility that there is a bad batch of drugs or an influx of something new ,"Schreiber said.

Over at Serenity Inn, a long-term drug addiction treatment center for men, they understand the current crisis.

"Everybody knows somebody that has an addiction, especially today," Jason Dobson, lead addiction counselor, said.

Every day Dobson receives four to five calls from men seeking treatment. Their program takes over seven months to complete and during that time. They can take in 12 men. Dobson said they are feeling the need to expand.

"It’s hard because you want to help everybody, especially if they are asking for it, but I’m confined by space," Dobson said.

Dobson is not surprised to hear 14 have died from probable overdoses since Friday.

"We are in an epidemic right now, and because there were 14 this weekend, you heard about it, but people are dying every day that we don’t hear about," DObson said.

Since Serenity Inn opened, they have helped over 550 men. Dobson hopes those that need treatment will find the strength to break free from their barriers.