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Heroin-related deaths on the rise in Monroe County

Rochester, N.Y. -- The death of Fairport native and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has sparked renewed attention on a dangerous drug heroin. 

In two years, heroin deaths in Monroe County are up almost 600-percent.

Monroe Countys chief toxicologist with the Medical Examiners Office said  there have been nine deaths linked to fentanyl between December and January.

Authorities said thats the same deadly mix linked to two dozen deaths in nearby Pennsylvania.

(Heroin is) quite addictive, said Martin Siegrist, assistant medical director at Huther Doyle. A lot of people using it for a little while tend to be very much addicted to it.

Heroin is cheaper and more available than other opiates, like prescribed pain killers.

Especially since August of 2013 when the I-STOP Act was implemented in New York State, cracking down on doctor shopping, making it more difficult to get prescription painkillers.

Some people who started off maybe on painkillers for some pain issues or a medical condition, and over time they may try to stop and realize they have an addiction and they may start buying the pills on the street if the doctor doesn't prescribe as much as they feel they need, said Siegrist. "Sometimes they find that it's cheaper to buy the heroin.

But heroin is more dangerous.

What happens is they might not be getting the same amount each time, and there might be a batch on the street such as heroin with fentanyl in it, which is heroin that's may be much stronger then they're use to using, said Siegrist. When they do that, their body might not have a tolerance to that amount and that's when they breathing stops and they could die.

The Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office said 65 deaths in 2013 were caused by heroin.

Also view the data collected by Monroe County here.

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Washington Times