The DuPage County Coroner recently released statistics on opioid-related deaths in 2019.
Dr. Richard Jorgensen’s report showed 96 opioid deaths in 2019, a number that has held relatively steady over recent years. In 2018, there were 98 opioid-related deaths and 95 in each of 2017 and 2016.
A Change in Types of Drugs
Though total death numbers have remained consistent, the types of opioids have changed.
Fentanyl deaths continue to rise, while prescribed opioid medications caused the fewest deaths in DuPage County since at least 2014 – the coroner’s report only included data from 2015 through 2019.
“That’s something across the country that doctors and nurses and all prescribers, oral surgeons and such, have realized that we need to diminish the amount of opioid prescriptions we are writing and the number of pills being made,” said Dr. Jorgensen. “And I do think it’s encouraging that our prescription drug deaths went down.”
Battling the Opioid Crisis
Area hospitals like Edward Hospital and Central DuPage Hospital have acknowledged the over-prescribing of opioids in the past and have been leaders in addressing the opioid crisis.
Dr. Jorgensen said programs like Edward-Elmhurst Health’s medication take back and Alternative to Opioid (ALTO) prescription software, coupled with more education are the way to bring the opioid death rate down.
“The number one thing that I hope that I see is we have more people in rehab, that they become productive citizens again, they get their health back and that we have less deaths,” said Dr. Jorgensen. “It’s just heartbreaking to me to see this amount of deaths.”
The report also indicated there has been a decrease in opioid deaths among teens and 20-somethings, and an increase in each decade after.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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