Coroners office says the number of drug-related deaths are on the rise

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - The coroner's office says one person will die from drugs every five days in Madison County, and that number has risen significantly since 2016.

That's an average of 73 drug-related deaths a year.

It takes a few months for a state-ordered autopsy report to confirm the cause of death -- but deputy coroner Tyler Berryhill says he's sure of one thing. "In 2017 fentanyl was by far the most dominant drug that causes death in our area."

The deputy coroner says his office is seeing several variations on the drug. "We see carfentanyl occasionally, which is elephant tranquilizer. We also see what's known as butyrfentanyl and there are multiple different ones that we do see."

He says that the screening process at the state level can help local law enforcement track down where the drugs are coming from.

"We can see if there are any unique markers to identify to potentially say these two samples have the same drug chemicals inside them. We may able to relay it to law enforcement to tie it back to a dealer."

Berryhill says fentanyl was the leading killer in drug-related deaths in Madison County last year.

In 2016, it was heroin.

Regardless of the choice of drug, he says he wants those that are addicted to keep fighting. "Every morning fight that battle. Every day that you get to be here with your family. It means a great deal to you, but also it means a great deal to them," he said. "And if you stumble, and you were to fall on certain days, or were to relapse. If you wake up the next morning, you've got a fresh chance to start again and make the most of it."