Overdose deaths rose in Dauphin County last year

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick says Tuesday was an especially busy day for autopsies.

“I walked in and there’s eight gurneys with deceased people on them,” he said.

During a news conference Tuesday, Hetrick announced preliminary figures for 2016. He said there were 91 overdose deaths last year, with just a few cases pending toxicology reports.

He said the death toll has continued to rise in recent years; from 46 in 2013 to 54 in 2014 and 74 and 2015.

“Drug deaths are increasing,” he said, “especially opioid deaths are increasing.”

Hetrick said many toxicology reports show a combination of drugs.

“There are many cocktails out there that are used that cause overdose,” he said.

He said opioids are not the only prescription drugs causing deaths. He said all pills are abused or misused because so many people rely on prescriptions to solve health issues.

“We have to take personal responsibility for much of our health rather than just using a drug for every problem from depression to sex,” he said.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ranks the United States ninth for drug addiction, yet our country leads the world in over-prescribed opioids as the leading killer.

“To change the problem, we have to change attitudes toward all drugs,” he said.

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