ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Health officials say the state is seeing an increase in heroin-related deaths as use of the drug expands among Alaskans.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports ( data released by the state’s Division of Public Health says heroin use expanded from 2002 to 2013, with the number of deaths more than tripling by 2013 from five years before.

The Centers for Disease Control recently reported a similar nationwide trend.

State data shows medical expenses for heroin-related hospitalizations totaled more than $2 million from 2008 to 2012.

Chief Medical Officer Jay Butler said heroin is more available than before and tightly linked with a rise in prescription opiate abuse, an area the report suggests needs tighter control.

The study recommends making access to treatment a priority and improving screening for addiction.