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Officials: Sedgwick County Seeing Increase In Heroin Overdoses

bennett_rohrig_heroin.jpg
Nadya Faulx
/
KMUW
Sedgwick County DA Marc Bennett, right, speaks to the media during a briefing about heroin use in the area. Timothy Rohrig, director of the Regional Forensic Science Center, says heroin overdose deaths jumped from 3 in 2011 to 21 in 2015.

A recent increase in heroin-related deaths prompted Sedgwick County officials on Thursday to warn residents about the dangers of some of the drugs they’re starting to see in the community.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said he hasn’t seen a major increase in the number of heroin possession or distribution cases in recent years.

“You don’t really see a huge spike in the past few years, but the toxicity, I don't know if I'm using the right word here, but lethality of the stuff that is on the streets is concerning," he said.

Heroin is often cut with other, more potent drugs, such as fentanyl.

Bennett was joined by Timothy Rohrig, director of the Regional Forensic Science Center, and Derby Police Chief Robert Lee for what Bennett called a public service announcement. In 2011, there were 3 heroin overdose deaths. In 2015, there were 21. The number of opioid overdose deaths has increased as well, Rohrig said.

Lee said that last year, two Derby residents overdosed on heroin, "which is two tragedies that occurred in our community."

“And if we’re having heroin overdose deaths in Derby, which is a very safe community," he said, "I assure you that it’s happening elsewhere as well.”

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Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.