4th heroin-related death reported in Florence area - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

4th heroin-related death reported in Florence area

Drug agents said heroin-related busts have spiked sharply in the last year. Drug agents said heroin-related busts have spiked sharply in the last year.

The rise in heroin use in the Shoals was made apparent earlier this week when several law enforcement agencies made known their declaration of war against the drug.

A fourth death, reported Thursday night, has been connected to the use of heroin, according to the Lauderdale County Coroner. All four deaths have been in the Florence area, and that number could rise when you factor in calls from the county and outlying areas.

Investigators said they first started seeing an increase in heroin use in Lauderdale County last year. In the last 12 days specifically, officials said they have responded to more than a dozen overdose calls involving the drug.

Drug agents suspect the spike in heroin use is a shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription pain pills. The following is a breakdown of the numbers agents in Lauderdale County released last week:

Agents said between 2001 and 2013 they busted only one heroin case. Since then, agents have made 10 distribution cases, 4 possession cases and one case of trafficking.

In the city of Florence alone, police responded to at least five heroin overdose calls, four of which resulted in death. The most recent death occurred late Thursday night.

Officials believe the supply currently making the rounds in the area is more lethal than what is generally available.  They said they are working to track the drug back to the dealers.

"The heroin is either not being cut and is very strong dope, or the drug dealer may be cutting it with a substance that is making this a 'lethal cocktail,' if you will," said Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler.

The heroin spike isn't isolated to the Shoals – cities across the country have reported a widespread, increased use of the drug. The FDA recently approved a device that allows family members or law enforcement to administer an overdose antidote.

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