DODGE COUNTY -- There have been four likely heroin overdose deaths in less than three weeks in Dodge County.
"This has taken over. It really has," Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said. "This wasn`t here five, 10 years ago and it really is taking its hold on our rural community."
Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt
Sheriff Schmidt says his community has seen four overdose deaths within a three-week period.
"We believe at this time point they are. There are some signs that are pointing to heroin use at the scenes," Sheriff Schmidt said.
In 2015, Dodge County saw 20 overdose deaths. With four deaths in three weeks, Sheriff Schmidt is worried this could be a deadly year.
"Absolutely, and 20 is far over what we had in 2014 which I believe is right around 11," Sheriff Schmidt said.
Sheriff Schmidt is attributing the increase to prescription drug abuse.
"And then they become addicted to the opioids and they are expensive and so they switch to heroin," Sheriff Schmidt said.
He added that this latest rash of overdose deaths could be linked to a "hot batch" of heroin.
"Hot batch is something that has been coined in the drug trade as being this is a batch that has something in it, either it`s a high potency because it wasn`t cut the same as the last dose or it may have fentanyl included with that heroin," Sheriff Schmidt said.
In addition to the overdose deaths, the Dodge County Sheriff's Office is also handling far more calls for those who ultimately do not lose their lives.
"We`re seeing people, sometime we get two or three at night on a Friday or Saturday night that are being transported to the hospital. It really is a dose of reality," Sheriff Schmidt said.
Another drug investigator has joined the Dodge County Sheriff's Office and there are more patrols on the streets.
Sheriff Schmidt has also set up educational programs in the school to teach them about the problem, and he is working with community groups to increase access to rehabilitation centers for those who are addicted.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Wisconsin Department of Justice's "Dose of Reality" campaign, aimed at curbing prescription drug and heroin abuse.