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Heroin epidemic worsens in Virginia

WASHINGTON — Fatal heroin overdoses in Virginia have tripled since 2011, and new figures released by the commonwealth show they continued to surge through last year.

Figures obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch indicate there was a 40 percent spike in heroin overdoses in 2015.

The increase comes despite an effort by officials around the state to stem the growing epidemic.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe established a task force in late 2014 with a focus on addressing prescription painkiller and heroin abuse throughout the commonwealth.

In 2015, state officials say, there were 882 deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers. However, that number is expected to rise, with 100 to 200 possible overdoses from last year still being investigated, reports the Times-Dispatch.

Since 2007, more than 4,700 people have died from heroin and painkiller overdoses in Virginia. The drugs currently kill more people than car crashes or guns.

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