BRADENTON, Fla. -- Manatee County has already has seen a significant increase in drug overdoses and deaths this year.
The sheriff’s office says they’ve seen 527 overdoses and 58 deaths through September of this year.
That’s more than twice as many deaths as this time last year.
In all of 2018, there were 362 overdoses and 33 deaths.
Captain Todd Shear with MCSO Special Investigations says the reason is drug dealers are mixing fentanyl into other drugs.
Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine.
"People may be using cocaine and in fact, it's cocaine laced with fentanyl and it's causing a lot of people to overdose," said Shear.
Shear says the sheriff’s office is working to help fix the overdose problem in Manatee County by helping people who experience an overdose to get help.
"We’re going to have a real conversation with them. Not just saying 'Here are some packets, we wish you well.' We ask, 'Where would you like to get treatment? Are you ready to get treatment,'" said Shear.
The sheriff’s office then connects addicts to places like the Harvest House, an organization that does many things, including substance abuse treatment.
"Addiction happens quickly, recovery doesn’t. We’re talking about a lot of therapy and engagement that is required to get a person healthy and whole again," said Jim Rouche Programs Services Director.
The sheriff’s office says their approach in helping addicts may have helped cause overdose numbers to plummet from nearly 1,300 in 2016, to 362 last year. But now the number is beginning to rise again.