Journal Sentinel creates overdose database

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Tom Kertscher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzed 1,200 fatal overdoses that occurred in the greater Milwaukee area over the past eight years and discovered that the majority of them were prescription drug-related. Kertscher puts the statistics in the context of the high-profile death of a local teenager, one which drew significant media attention to prescription drug abuse in the area.

Of the 1,200 deaths, which do not include suicides, just more than half were caused by prescription drugs.

An additional 19% of the deaths were caused by a mix of pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs, such as heroin.

…The victims of the most potent prescription drugs range from urban teens using anti-anxiety medications to get high to middle-age suburbanites who get hooked on narcotic painkillers after being injured on the job. They include residents of all 19 Milwaukee County communities and suburban county residents from Belgium to Kewaskum to Mukwonago.

Kertscher’s overdose database is available online and can be sorted through a search tool or overlaid on a Google map. The map can be sorted by race, age, sex, year and drug type.

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