By Maddie Wood, Community Editor
Last year alone, 137 drug-related deaths occurred in Butler County, according to a report from the Butler County Coroner's office.
For the first time in over 34 years, drug-related deaths (137) surpassed deaths due to natural causes (136).
In this annual report released by the coroner's office, drug overdose deaths came in No. 1 among cases accepted, exceeding natural deaths, suicides, vehicular accidents, other accidents, homicides and undetermined causes.
The number of drug-related deaths in Butler County increased by 19 from 2013 to 2014, while the number of natural deaths increased by 10.
The high number of drug-related deaths relates directly to the spread of heroin across Butler County. The coroner's report stated that over 100 of the 137 drug overdoses resulted from the use of heroin.
The heroin epidemic is evident throughout Butler County. Data from the Butler County Sheriff's office shows that the Butler Undercover Regional Narcotics (B.U.R.N) taskforce investigated 238 drug cases in 2012, 25 percent of the cases dealing with heroin. One of those heroin investigations resulted in the death of former Miami University student Andy Supronas, who was a senior at the time of his death.
In 2013, there were 542 drug-related investigations, 28 percent regarding heroin.
"Right now we are in the midst of a nationwide heroin epidemic. I think Butler County is following these trends," said Dr. Joshua Hersh, staff psychiatrist for the Miami University Student Counseling Service.
Though heroin use is not considered a widespread issue on Miami's campus, Hersh wants students to know that there are services available if they find themselves in trouble with drugs.
"At the Community Counseling and Crisis Center's Alcohol and Drug treatment program we offer counseling, urine drug testing, and medication assisted treatment," Hersh said. "We also refer people to peer support groups such as AA or NA."
For more extreme circumstances, McCullough Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford offers treatment for those suffering from drug overdoses. Naxolene (Narcan) is a prescription medicine that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, erasing almost all traces of drugs in the bloodstream. Oxford EMS also issues Narcan in response to drug-related calls.
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Sharon Klein, director of community wellness at McCullough-Hyde, said Narcan has successfully been around since the 60s and is nothing new in the medical community.
According to stopoverdose.org, "Narcan is an antidote to opioid drugs. Opioids can slow or stop a person's breathing, which causes death. Naloxone helps the person wake up and keeps them breathing."
Some of the opioids Narcan can reverse the effects of include heroin, morphine, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, codeine and other prescription pain medications.