Greenville Co. Coroner: Opioid deaths increased by more than 60 - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville Co. Coroner: Opioid deaths increased by more than 60 percent from 2016 to 2017

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(file photo | CNN) (file photo | CNN)

From 2016 to 2017, the Greenville County Coroner's Office said the number of opioid overdoses jumped more than 60%. 

"This is really, really dangerous and it's playing with fire and it's a just a matter of statistics as to how many people are going to meet with an early death," said Deputy Coroner Kent Dill, Greenville County.

Dill said in many cases the source of addiction begins legally. 

"Often times they started with a legitimate injury and a legitimate use of an opioid that was prescribed by them but then when they became addicted to that and it became difficult for them to continue to get that then they would switch to something from the street," said Dill.

In a significant number of cases, Dill said what he and other coroners are finding is that what's on the street could be causing the rise in deaths.

"The heroin is being cut with another substance often times fentanyl that is more potent and is less predictable so as a result we're seeing a big uptick in those deaths," said Dill.

Dill said the number of opioid overdose deaths were pretty consistent in the 30s and 40s each year until 2014. He said deaths jumped from 45 in 2013 to 63 the following year. They rose to 75 in 2015 but then dropped to 48 in 2016. Dill said he believes the more widespread use of the overdose reversal drug Narcan may have played a role there. By 2017 though, the numbers jumped again when the coroners responded to 78 deaths in Greenville County.

Dill said it's a possibility some of those revived by Narcan may have ultimately contributed to that increase if they continued risky behavior.

"We do see some people that have been revived several times in the past and they continue to use and then ultimately will one time be a fatal overdose," said Dill. 

Dill said part of combating this on-going problem starts with getting loved ones help.

"We would encourage anybody who believes they may be in danger to seek out treatment and seek out help to try and get past this because if they don't it's just a matter of time before they become one of our cases," said Dill. 

Dill said at this point there are no numbers out for opioid overdoses in 2018.

Greenville Police said there have been 10 drug overdoses this year with one resulting in death. Since the start of 2018, the Greenville County Sheriff's Office said there's been 22 drug overdoses and four of them were fatal.

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