Four people died in 2010 in Umatilla County from illegal drug use, while in 2009 there were none.

Oregon Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Gunson released the 2010 report about drug-related deaths Friday. Statewide, the total number of drug-related deaths dropped in 2010 compared to the year before, but methamphetamine-related deaths rose dramatically.

 The latest statistics show 200 people died in 2010 in Oregon from heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or a combination use of those drugs, a 6 percent drop from 213 deaths in 2009.

While the number of deaths dropped in three categories, 106 people in 2010 died from meth, a 22 percent increase from 2009 and matching 2008 for the highest number of deaths in this category.

"Any encouragement seen with the drop in drug-related death statistics was definitely brought back to reality with the 22 percent jump in methamphetamine deaths,” Gunson said in the report. “This unexpected jump comes on the heels of last year's 20 percent drop while the state of Oregon has been a national leader in taking steps to prevent meth production.”

Meth use killed two people in 2010 in Umatilla County, and two more died from a combination of meth and heroin. Morrow County had no drug-related deaths, while in 2009 there was one.

Statewide, heroin caused 90 deaths in 2010, a 29 percent drop from 2009 when there were 127 deaths. Cocaine killed 20 people in 2010, a 38 percent drop from 2009 and more than three times lower than in 2000, when the drug killed 69 people.

The report also showed deaths from drug combinations killed 18 people, the lowest level on record.

Lane County showed the largest decrease in total drug deaths, a drop from 33 (2009) to 16 (2010). Most of those deaths were related to meth.

Statewide prescription drug overdose deaths from Methadone use again topped the list of major prescription drugs with 101 confirmed deaths in 2010, the report said. That’s a 23 percent drop from two years ago when 131 deaths were reported in 2008. Overdoses of Oxycodone killed 59 people in 2010, a 66 percent increase from the 39 it killed in 2008. Hydrocodone, the third highest major prescription drug category, had 30 overdose deaths in 2010 (no 2008 comparable numbers available for this release).

"With Methadone's wider use, it has a higher abuse potential," Gunson said.

Information for all counties with at least one drug-related death and a comparison of drug-related death categories during the last 11 years is available through a link provided with this release. The State Medical Examiner's 2010 statistical review also is available on the agency's website at www.oregon.gov/OSP/SME/index.shtml.

(Note that prescription drug overdose deaths statistics are statewide and are not available at the State Medical Examiner's website.)

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