Coroner: More overdoses than homicides in New Orleans this year

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – There were more opioid overdoses in New Orleans during the first half of 2016 than there were homicides, according to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office.

Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse confirmed that as of May 21, there have been 65 opioid-related deaths in New Orleans. There were 47 homicides reported during the same period, he said.

There were more heroin and fentanyl overdoses in the first six months of 2016 than there were in all of 2015, Rouse said. There were 63 overdoses in 2015, he said.

Officials have been working to combat the drastic uptick in overdose deaths, even selling Naloxone, a life-saving drug that counters the effects of an overdose, over the counter at University Medical Center and at CVS.

Covington police armed with nasal spray to stop heroin overdoses almost immediately

Rouse said Naloxone is “remarkably effective when used correctly and quickly.”

“There have been instances when it was unfortunately given too late, and the patient was revived but eventually succumbed due to anoxic brain injury …,” he said. “In essence, if you give the antidote too late, there may be consequences.”

Rouse has called the rise in heroin use a “public health crisis,” and his office has gone slightly over budget because it has had to order more toxicology tests that are required by law to classify overdose deaths.

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The trend in New Orleans is in line with a sharp rise in opioid deaths nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioid overdoses are six times higher than they were 15 years ago.