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Jackson County drug deaths dropped in 2013, but remain among highest in state

 Posted: 10:25 AM April 24, 2014

Eleven people died of drug overdoses in Jackson County in 2013, down from 19 the previous year, but still enough to put the county in the top five for number of drug-related deaths statewide, a report from the state medical examiner shows.

The number of deaths was the second highest amount of drug deaths in the county since 2002, data from the state medical examiner shows.

The agency's findings, released today, show seven deaths were heroin related, five deaths were linked to methamphetamine and two deaths involved a combination of substances. That number makes Jackson County the fourth highest in the state for heroin deaths.

Nearby Josephine County saw four deaths, with three tied to methamphetamine and one tied to heroin. Klamath County had two, both methamphetamine related.

Only Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, and Lane counties saw more drug-related deaths than Jackson County.

Statewide, there were 222 drug-related deaths, nearly unchanged from the 223 reported in 2012. Of that number, 123 were methamphetamine-related, a 32 percent boost from 2012's 93, and the highest recorded since 2000.

"More than 55 percent of all drug-related deaths were associated with methamphetamine use," a release from the medical examiner reads.

There were also 111 heroin-related deaths in Oregon, a dip of 25 percent from 2012's reported 147. The 2012 number is the highest reported number of heroin deaths since 2000, officials said. In 2013, 65 heroin-related deaths happened in Multnomah County.

Statewide, cocaine-related deaths were at their lowest in the 13-year period covered by the report with just 12 reported. That's a 36 percent dip from 2012's 19. Only Multnomah, Lincoln, Malheur and Yamill counties reported cocaine-related deaths. All other counties had none.

The medical examiner's office also said there were 150 deaths related to methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone overdoses in Oregon, with 58, 60 and 32 deaths reported respectively. Methadone and oxycodone deaths dropped from the respective 78 and 66 reported in 2012, with hydrocodone deaths jumping from 2012's 26 to 32 in 2013.

Deaths from these prescription drugs weren't broken down by county in the state report.

— Ryan Pfeil

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