Illinois Hit Hard by Opioid and Heroin Overdoses

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Illinois Hit Hard by Opioid and Heroin Overdoses

Not unlike many states nationwide, Illinois is currently experiencing a troubling and sudden increase in prescription opioid and heroin overdoses. Both heroin and opioid painkillers are highly addictive drugs, and overdose results in life-threatening respiratory and central nervous system depression.

According to statistics put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths in Illinois increased over 8% between 2013-2014, from just under 1600 to over 1700. It was among 14 states with a significant increase in fatalities by drug overdose. During that time, the age-adjusted rate also rose from 12.1 to 13.1 overdose fatalities per 100,000 persons. An age-adjusted rate distribution of age.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, in 2014, 42% (or 711) deaths were heroin-related overdoses. That’s a 4% increase from 2013, which was 37% (or 583).

As of February 2016, the most recent data reveals there were nearly 700 heroin overdoses resulting in fatality in 2015. This number, however, is not yet complete and currently under-reported, pending investigations and death causes still not yet determined. This number increased since the last update in January, which put the number of overdose deaths at 618 – a jump of 74 fatalities in just under a month.

Prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet are still the #1 cause of overdose fatalities – however, increasing heroin use has led to an unprecedented rise heroin overdoses, as well. Prescription drug themselves are set to be the blame for the increase in heroin use, as those addicts who can no longer fill prescriptions are turning to the cheaper and more widely available heroin.

Also according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more U.S. residents died from drug overdoses than any other year on record. Over the past 4 years, heroin-related fatalities have more than tripled.

According to the health department, in 2014 the majority of the heroin overdoses happened in Cook County – namely Chicago and surrounding suburban areas, with over 300 deaths. And that number is already matched with provisional data from 2015.  Followed at a distance were DuPage and Winnebago counties.

G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A. Psychology

Related: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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