Janesville's heroin and opioid overdose deaths could pass last y - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Janesville's heroin and opioid overdose deaths could pass last year's record

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- There's more evidence that the heroin and opioid epidemic is hitting Wisconsin hard. In Janesville alone, the number of overdoses from the drugs continue to climb and local police say they expect the statistics to climb. 

"It started out as a pill addiction," said Kyle Pucek, a recovering addict who lives in Janesville. 

Painkillers got the best of him for 11 years after undergoing several painful surgeries. But when his pills finally ran out, he turned to something else. 

"The cheaper alternative at that time was just, you know, go to street drugs and heroin was the most similar high," said Pucek. 

The drugs stole everything from Pucek. But this November will mark his fourth year Pucek's been clean. However, so many others across the nation and in Janesville are not. 

"It's pretty much anywhere you can think of," said Eric Grahn, a police officer with the Janesville Police Department. 

He and his department admit, addiction is impacting a number of lives in the community. 

"I never saw any sort of drug use like this, at this level," he added. 

In 2015, there were 25 reported overdoses from heroin and opioids in Janesville, according to the police department. Four people died from the drugs that same year. 

But in 2016, those numbers more than doubled. Janesville police records show 54 people overdosed and 12 of them died. So far this year, 48 people have overdosed and nine people have died. However, over the weekend two people died and police believe heroin was involved. If so, that would bring the heroin and opioid death toll to 11, just one shy of last year's record.

With two holiday months still left in 2017, Janesville police are sure 2016's numbers will sadly be beat. 

"There are a lot of people that will say, hey, I don't like this time of year cause it brings a lot of stress. So, it triggers a lot of memories or I don't get a long with this part of the family. That's going to add fuel to the fire," said Grahn. 

It's a reality Pucek knows too well. 

"I've had numerous amounts of people die from it, friends who I used to sit and use with," said Pucek. 

He's a man who is on a better path. Now, he hopes others in his community will soon join him. 

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