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Advocates say a key to saving lives would be more widespread access to Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, which can quickly counteract the effects of heroin in an overdose.

Drug overdoses kill more Wisconsin residents than motor vehicle crashes, breast cancer, suicide and other types of deaths, a special report from the state says.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said 843 people died in 2013 from drug overdoses, double the number of deaths from overdoses in 2004.

"From urban areas to rural communities, drug overdoses are a public health crisis," said DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades. "DHS is focusing our efforts on reducing inappropriate use of prescription pain relievers, as well as providing resources for recovery from the addictions that can lead to overdoses."

Forty-three percent of the drug overdose deaths in 2013 were attributed to opioid pain relievers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, while heroin accounted for 27 percent of the deaths.

Overdoses also accounted for more deaths than colon cancer, firearms, influenza or HIV, the DHS report said.

Overdoses are considered a death by poisoning, so prescription drugs, illegal drugs and over-the-counter medications were responsible for 97 percent of all Wisconsin poisoning deaths, with 14 percent of the overdose deaths noted as suicides, the report said.

DHS said on average, people who died from drug overdoses were in their early 40s, and the overdose death rate for males was 59 percent higher than the death rate for females.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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