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Drug Deaths Rise in St. Louis Area

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – A federal report released Tuesday says more St. Louis-area residents died as the result of drug abuse in 2002 than in the four preceding years. Nearly three percent of all area deaths were drug related.

Dr. Judy Ball, with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says the St. Louis numbers are not out of the ordinary.

"St. Louis is actually very similar to other areas," Ball said. "The numbers associated with prescription drug abuse have been rising, and we certainly see that in St. Louis and in other data systems, so it's not just in deaths."

Deaths involving heroin and alcohol in combination with other drugs also rose dramatically.

Researchers studied coroners' reports from seven counties in the region and the city of St. Louis.

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