2019 overdose deaths up in Wood County

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) Drug-related deaths increased in Wood County during 2019.

That's according to the county coroner's annual report, presented Monday to the Wood County Commission.

The increase comes after a couple of years of declines.

Coroner Mike St. Clair says there were 30 reported overdose deaths in 2018.

That went up to 35 in 2019, and he expects that will be 45, when all death certificates come in.

There is something, however, that is different about these deaths: more involve methanphetemene and fewer involve heroin.

"But the bad thing is, they typically don't overdose and die with meth like they did with the opiates," Sheriff Steve Stephens notes. "If they're using fentanyl mixed in with it, it's the same thing. It doesn't make any difference what you put poison on, if it's a Hershey bar, it's going to be poison."

Sheriff Stephens and Coroner St. Clair both note that, while meth is becoming a commonly-used drug again, there are fewer of the "meth labs" than there were in the past.

The sheriff adds overdoses reported to the Wood County 911 Center rose during 2019, after declining sharply the previous year.

There also was an increase in the other death category of note-homicides-which were slightly up during 2019.