Heroin deaths hitting record highs in some midstate counties

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 15, 2015 2:45 PM

(Lancaster) -- Even with some changes in state law, heroin is killing more people than ever in some midstate counties.

From January until the end of September, 29 people died from heroin overdoses in Lancaster County.

York County's total is one higher -- with 11 more cases suspected. (Last year, 62 people died from heroin-related overdoses).

Cumberland County sits at 16 heroin overdose deaths for the same time period.

The numbers in both Lancaster and Cumberland counties top last year's statistics, and York is nearing another high as well.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman says people need to remember what is behind those numbers.

"And that's the problem you get into with statistics, you start talking about numbers and these aren't numbers, these are people. It's all bad. And I do think it's getting worse, and I hope I'm wrong," says Stedman.

Stedman says the addiction crisis also leads to more crime, as people addicted to drugs turn to theft or drug dealing to fund their habit.

He says the numbers could be even higher if it wasn't for a change in state law that allows police, firefighters, families and friends to carry the life-saving drug naloxone.

"There's no question in my mind, if naloxone wasn't available there'd be more people dead. At least 13 people have definitely been saved. I'm sure it's higher than that just anecdotally talking to the physician at Lancaster General, we're not reporting them all yet. So, yes, there's no question that people are alive today because of naloxone."

Police have administered it at least 13 times already this year in Lancaster County.

Stedman says it will take a combined approach from law enforcement, treatment providers and society as a whole to address the problem, but events like this week's forum in Lancaster are helping.

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