Oregon drug deaths down, except for heroin

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The overall number of illegal drug deaths in Oregon dropped again last year, but once again, heroin deaths reached a record high.

The Oregonian reports that overall illicit drug deaths totaled 223, down 7 percent from the year before. But 147 of them were attributed to heroin overdoses — a grim new record.

Dr. Karen Gunson, the Oregon state medical examiner, says the victims of heroin overdoses were predominantly in their 20s — younger than in years past.

Prescription drug deaths — usually related to misuse and abuse of legitimately prescribed drugs — also declined last year, falling to 170. Gunson said it appears the dip is the result of the state's prescription drug monitoring program.