Meth now the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Oregon - KPTV - FOX 12

Meth now the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Oregon

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Methamphetamine is now the leading cause of illegal drug-related deaths in Oregon.

Oregon State Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Gunson released statistics Thursday showing 222 people died in connection to the use of heroin, cocaine, meth or a combination of those drugs in 2013.

The year prior, 223 deaths were tied to illegal drugs.

In 2013, there were 123 meth-related deaths in the state. That is a 32 percent increase over the previous year and the highest recorded total since 2000.

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

Multnomah County had a sharp increase in meth-related deaths, with 45 reported in 2013, up from 28 in 2012. The county also had 65 heroin-related deaths.

In 2012, heroin was the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Oregon. In 2013, 111 deaths were connected to heroin, a 25 percent decrease from the previous year.

Clackamas County accounted for 13 heroin-related deaths for the year.

Cocaine-related death totals were the lowest in Oregon since 2000 with 12. Nine of those were in Multnomah County.

The medical examiner's office said the total numbers are not cumulative. Multiple drugs were counted among some of the individual deaths.

In all, 23 Oregon counties reported at least one drug-related death in 2013.

Full breakdown: 2013 drug-related deaths by county

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