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Clackamas County drug-related deaths up 30 percent in 2013

13 individuals in the county died as a result of heroin overdoses, according to state figures

Deaths related to illegal drugs in Clackamas County increased about 30 percent in 2013 compared to the year before, according to figures recently released by State Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Gunson.

Of the 17 deaths in Clackamas County attributed to drugs last year, 13 involved heroin, Gunson reported. In 2012, there were a total of 13 drug-related deaths in the county, with eight of those involving heroin.

Statewide, there were 222 deaths associated with heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine in 2013, down from 223 the year before.

From the medical examiner’s report:

n 123 Methamphetamine-related deaths statewide, a 32 percent increase over the previous year’s reported 93 deaths and the highest recorded since the beginning of 2000. More than 55 percent of all drug-related deaths were associated with methamphetamine use. Multnomah County noted a 62 percent increase in this category with 45 recorded deaths, up from 28 deaths last year.

The majority of methamphetamine-related deaths are not overdoses but actually related to some other event such as traffic crash, drowning or other traumatic event. Methamphetamine use is also linked to seizures and sudden elevation in blood pressure which can cause strokes and heart attacks.

n Heroin-related deaths — 111statewide — were decrease 25 percent from the previous year’s reported 147 deaths, which was the highest number since the beginning of 2000. More than half — 65 — of heroin-related deaths happened in Multnomah County, and Clackamas County recorded 13 deaths which is an increase from last year’s eight recorded deaths in this category.

n Cocaine-related deaths — 12 statewide — were the fewest recorded since the beginning of 2000 and a 35 percent decrease from the previous year’s 19 reported deaths. The highest number was reported in 2000 when 69 people died from illicit use in this category. Cocaine-related deaths occurred only in Multnomah, Lincoln, Malheur and Yamhill counties.

n Combination of drug use deaths — 26 statewide — dropped 20 percent and was the second fewest since the beginning of 2000.

n Forty-five percent of drug-related deaths in 2013 happened in Multnomah County, a drop of one death compared to last year’s 103 deaths.

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