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Cocaine killing more in Milwaukee than Heroin, ME's office says

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner says more people are now dying from cocaine than heroin in Milwaukee county.

However, the drug isn't killing alone.

Autopsies are showing people have died from a combination of cocaine and other drugs like heroin and fentanyl. The ME's office is not sure how much of that combination is people choosing to do multiple drugs at once or from cocaine dealers cutting their supply. Cocaine was involved in 79 deaths so far in 2018 and 149 in 2017.

Back in 2013, less than 50 people died from cocaine. Deaths have tended to skew more toward white middle aged men more than other groups. The Medical Examiners officer says it looks similar to a recent heroin trend.

"A couple years ago now we were talking about how the heroin was contaminated with fentanyl," said Sara Schreiber, Milwaukee Medical Examiner Forensic Director. "They were putting fentanyl into the heroin and people didn't realize that that was there. They were being exposed to that high potent opioid without their knowledge, and that proved deadly to many people, and that number is increasing over the years. so the same type of thing could be happening in the cocaine supply, we just don't know that for sure."

Schreiber added the combination of the two drugs is incredibly toxic, and difficult for the body to handle.

"Inherently if you have somebody that's a stimulant addict. Someone that's using cocaine on a regular basis, and you unknowingly expose them to a potent opioid like fentanyl or heroin, the effects that they are going to have are going to be toxic, if not fatal."

One hundred seventy three  people have now died from a drug overdose in the county this year. That does not include suspected drug overdoses that are pending investigation.

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