Startling new numbers show heroin overdoses at new high in Madison

U.S. Drug Deaths Continue Rapid Rise

MADISON (WKOW) -- It's a drug that has no boundaries. Almost everyone knows someone impacted by heroin. It's a national epidemic that's now hitting a new high in Madison. New numbers from the Madison Police Department show overdoses from the drug are up 205 percent. It's especially startling for those who respond to help.

"It's hard to hear. And it's unfortunate to hear especially in our community," said Madison paramedic and firefighter Angelo Aguirre. 

"It hasn't been just a steady growth, like we can see in the numbers, it's been a spike," he added. 

It's a troubling reality. 67 people have overdosed in Madison from July to September of 2017. It's a 205 percent increase from the same time period in 2016. But the figure only accounts for the overdoses that are reported. Now that Narcan (the drug used to reverse some overdoses) is available over the counter, authorities believe many cases are being treated by others at home instead of by first responders. 

Madison police also respond to overdose calls and according to the department, officers used Narcan 19 times. 

Paramedics carry multiple doses of Narcan, but with some heroin being laced with fentanyl, the drug that brings some back from the dead just isn't powerful enough. 

"Sometimes it could take two, four might work -- I've seen up to six used on one patient," said Aguirre. 

Between January and September of 2017, 16 people have died from heroin overdoses in Madison alone. In the first nine months of 2016, there were only four deaths caused by the drug. 

"That's alarming to me and I think to anybody working on our job," added Aguirre. 

It means he and his colleagues are responding to more overdose calls than ever before. 

"This year alone, probably eight to 10 calls by myself. When I first got hired, I remember going on maybe one in my first year," he said. 

It's a problem that continues to grow at a sad rate. Now, Madison's finest are left answering the calls that have become routine. 

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