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Drug overdose numbers in Milwaukee County causing concern for Medical Examiner’s Office

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Drug overdose numbers in Milwaukee County are causing concern for the staff at the Medical Examiner’s Office.

They do more than 1,000 autopsies a year, and those numbers are going up.

Many of those deaths are drug-related.

"Sadly, in this last year now, we've seen an uptick in the number of cocaine-related deaths and even a few methamphetamine-related deaths, which to me is kind of terrifying," said Dr. Brian Peterson, chief medical examiner.

Cocaine overdoses nearly doubled in the last three years.

Methamphetamine killed 11 people each in 2017 and 2018, but before that, the number was zero or one every year going back to 2011.

"Meth is kind of like crabgrass,” Peterson said. “Once it gets into an area it takes over."

Paramedics with Bell Ambulance say the majority of what they see are opioid overdoses of prescription drugs or heroin.

Despite the increased numbers, projections for 2019 of every drug are lower than how many there were in 2018.

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