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Madison Police Officer: City Seeing Increase In Overdoses

Madison Sees 221 Overdoses, 34 Fatalities From Heroin Since Start Of 2018

heroin needles
Used heroin syringes are stored in a water bottle as Steve Monnin cleans a wooded area in Combs Park, in Hamilton, Ohio. John Minchillo/AP Photo

Madison has been hit hard by the heroin epidemic in the last year.

As of Wednesday, Madison had seen 221 overdoses and 34 fatalities from heroin since the beginning of 2018, according to Madison Police Officer Bernie Albright.

In August, there were 36 known heroin overdoses, a 9 percent increase from August 2017.

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That matches a previous record for the most per month set in October 2017, but is inline with the spring and summer.

“It’s been about one a day for four months,” said Albright, who also serves as the Madison Addiction Recovery Initiative (MARI) coordinator.

Albright characterized the rate as consistent, but troubling.

“Thirty seems to be like epidemic-type levels, like crisis-type levels, where that is just way too many and we have a real problem,” he said. “Quite frankly, we don’t know where it’s going to peak because we haven’t started coming back down yet. So we don’t know if we’ve hit the worst part of this or if we’re just plateauing.”

Albright and his team are trying to address the crisis through the MARI program, which gives opioid users facing drug charges two options: go to court or go to treatment.

MARI is a three-year grant funded program and has been active for a year. So far 13 people have completed the six-month treatment requirement.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:55 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 with information from Madison Police Officer Bernie Albright.