Jefferson Co. authorities report 51 heroin-related deaths so far - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Jefferson Co. authorities report 51 heroin-related deaths so far in 2014

The number of heroin-related deaths in Jefferson County. Source: WBRC video The number of heroin-related deaths in Jefferson County. Source: WBRC video
JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

Authorities say heroin related deaths have more than quadrupled in Jefferson County in the last five years. It's a problem that appears to only be getting worse.

"It's a terrible situation. It's a terribly dangerous drug. It's very, very addictive and overdoses can often lead to deaths," explained JM Davis.

He is the head of the narcotics unit for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. His department has had to use more resources to crack down on the dealers who sell the deadly drug.

"Five years ago we may have worked three or four heroin cases a year, where right now it makes up about 30-40% of our case load," added Davis.

Agents try to get the drug off the streets, but addicts are still getting their hands on it and in some cases dying from it.

"In the past few years we've responded to more than we've ever responded to in my career. And the numbers just keep going up," added Hoover Fire Department Executive Officer Rusty Lowe.

He said the overdose calls come in quite a bit.

According to the Jefferson County Coroner's Office, there has been an exponential growth in heroin related deaths.

In 2007 there were seven. By 2012, that number jumped to 58 and 58 more people died in 2013.

So far in 2014, there have been 51 heroin-related deaths in Jefferson County. Bill Yates with the medical examiner's office is confident will grow before the year is over.

According to Davis, the deadly drug also unleashes a domino effect of problems in a community.

"As their addiction grows each day they have to have more money to fund their habit. This leads to other criminal activity, burglary, and prostitution," Davis said.

While there is no easy solution to curb heroin use and heroin related deaths, Davis says his office is doing their part to stop the people who sell it.

"Our primary mission being to keep the community safe, we've put every resource that we can muster," Davis said.

Meanwhile paramedics with the Hoover Fire Department are equipped with Naloxone, more commonly known as narcan. It's a drug used to treat heroin overdose patients.

"We see these people and they've either stopped breathing or they're really close to it. It actually reverses the effects and it really is a life saving drug. There are quite a few people that are alive out there now because of the administration of the drug. So there's a good chance that we've saved many of those people," added Lowe.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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