Lee Memorial reports alarming increase in heroin overdoses

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- The number of heroin overdoses in 2015 skyrocketed to 201 cases, Lee Memorial Health Systems said.

Numbers released by Lee Memorial show heroin overdoses are on the rise in Southwest Florida in recent years:

  • 2010: 15 cases
  • 2011: 14 cases
  • 2012: 17 cases
  • 2013: 34 cases
  • 2014: 121 cases

“There’s nothing in my mind that makes me think we’re going to see any decrease in our numbers… Nothing,” said Dr. Timothy Dougherty,¬†a toxicologist at Cape Coral Hospital.

Brandon Short, a psychiatric PA with White Sands Treatment Center, says the statistics on heroin-related deaths are worse.

“Fifty deaths related in 2010 to heroin. Then last year, 2015, it went up to 447 deaths related to heroin,” Short said.

Short says even children are at risk of becoming addicted to the dangerous drug; White Sands is currently treating kids as young as 13 years old.

“Heroin has been reported in schools as well,” Short said.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, how educated you are, how smart you are, how much money you have,” said Vickie, a recovering heroin addict who now spends her time helping others.¬†“[I] have seen judges and lawyers, and doctors, nurses.”

Vickie adds¬†it’s crucial to talk to children¬†about the dangers of falling victim to heroin.

“Be honest. There’s¬†drugs out there. Show them pictures,¬†‘this is what it looks like.’ They’ve got to know.”

In January and February of 2016, Lee Memorial has seen 25 heroin overdoses. At that rate, hospital officials expect more overdoses this year than in 2015.

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