Alarming Spike Is a “Wake Up Call” for US, Illinois, and McHenry County
McHenry County, IL: Opioid overdoses across the US increased about 30% from July 2016 through September 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Vital Signs report released March 6th. In total there were about 142,000 drug overdoses in that period, and overdoses killed 64,000 people in 2016. Acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat stated that we’re now seeing “the highest overdose death rates ever recorded in the United States.”
The increase was present across all regions and most states, but has hit Midwestern states like Illinois especially hard. The Midwestern region saw a 70% increase in opioid overdoses during the recorded 14-month period, and Illinois emergency rooms reported a 66% increase in opioid overdose visits. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) previously reported 2,278 overdose deaths in 2016, over 80% of which (1,826) were opioid-related. That was a 44.3% increase over number of overdose deaths reported by IDPH in 2013 (1,579).
Opioid overdoses and deaths have also surged right here in McHenry County. Total drug-related overdose deaths in the county have rapidly increased from 32 in 2014 to 56 in 2016. Of those deaths, opioids accounted for 21 out of 32 in 2014, and 46 out of 56 in 2016. Fentanyl now represents one-third of opioid overdose deaths in McHenry County, where before almost all were heroin-related.
Dr. Schuchat called the spike in opioid overdoses and deaths a “wake up call” to the epidemic that is spreading through our communities. This crisis demands action, and will require dedicated resources, increased funding, additional treatment options, and legislative changes to address it.