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More heroin overdose fatalities reported in Arizona

In the wake of the apparent drug overdose death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, there is some disturbing news from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The number of heroin deaths in the state is up.

"Last year, there were 100 Arizonans who died from apparent heroin overdoses," said ADHS Director Will Humble. "That's the second highest in the last few years."

In 2011, 125 died from heroin overdoses. That number dropped to 93 in 2012, but is now way back up. Experts say that more people are using heroin because they're finding that heroin is much less expensive than prescription drugs, and gives them the same high.

Humble described how heroin kills.

"It basically binds to the opioid receptors in your brain, and that way it creates a high," Humble said. "When people die from a heroin overdose, it's because that the brain is so affected that it forgets to tell the body to breathe.

There also appears to be more heroin coming into the state. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that heroin seizures jumped from 154 kilograms in 2008 to 522 in 2012.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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