The number of heroin deaths increased tenfold during a recent five-year period,according to a recently updated state Health Department report.

Oklahoma’s heroin deaths increased from three deaths in 2007 to 29 in 2012.


The report notes, in previous years, heroin deaths might have been underestimated and misclassified as morphine.

“Heroin metabolizes completely into morphine, so it is possible deaths could be misclassified, especially if there is no evidence of heroin use at the scene, and the heroin has already completely metabolized to morphine by the time the decedent’s lab samples are taken,” Claire Nguyen, an epidemiologist at the state Health Department, said in an email.

The increase in deaths could be due to both more heroin usage and better reporting, Nguyen said.

Nguyen, one of the report’s authors, said when she reviews reports from the medical examiner’s office, if morphine is listed…

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