Renewed calls for help as heroin abuse roils Milwaukee County

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 19:22:26-04

WEST ALLIS - Stunning new information from crime analysts show the severity of heroin and painkiller abuse in Milwaukee County.

Crime analysts at the West Allis Police Department say overdoses have killed 14 people so far in 2016, a pace that far exceeds all of 2015, when 10 people died.

WAPD officers respond to one overdose every three to four days. But, on the weekend of July 8-10, dispatchers confirmed three cases in just 36 hours; the average age of users was 30.

"We can't just focus on educating young children," Dep. Chief Bob Fletcher lamented to TODAY'S TMJ4.

"We need to educate adults about what happens when you get addicted to painkillers and then turn to using heroin."

Though overdose deaths are up, Fletcher explained crews are saving more lives thanks to Naloxone, the drug more commonly known as Narcan.

Working with the West Allis Fire Department, whose paramedics administer the life-saving drug, crews have already used Narcan 61 times in 2016.

"I think one of the scary things for heroin is we've had people who we've gone to on multiple overdose cases," Fletcher explained. "We've administered Narcan, brought [users] back to life, and then we'll go there on other calls."

Narcan can be used to save patients who have overdosed on a variety of drugs, but most are from heroin and painkillers, Fletcher added.

There is good news, however, he said. There are many more resources available for addicts and their families, including the DEA's 360 Strategy.

For more information, click here and here.