According to data from the DuPage County’s Coroner Office opioid overdose deaths hit a record number in the county last year.
There were 112 opioid overdose deaths in 2020, which is a 17% increase from last year according to DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen.
Reasons For the Increase
“I think for sure it’s related to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, and the continued stress of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jorgensen. “The first six months of the year we actually saw a 52% increase in the number of overdoses [compared to 2019]… As I review the deaths it’s clear that people are suffering from the isolation, the lack of ability to get treatment, and camaraderie.”
The data shows that of the 112 deaths 76% were males and 24% were females. Those in the age group of 20-39 were the most affected accounting for 73 of the 112 deaths.
Combating The Opioid Crisis
Jorgensen said on the positive side, overdose deaths in the latter half of 2020 declined. The DuPage County coroner is hopeful that the changing mitigations across the state might be of help.
“People who are in recovery are very much affected by this shutdown,” said Jorgensen. “Use AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings as an example. You meet with people and you have society as part of your recovery. What we’re doing now is we have no society and we don’t have the ability to get together in meetings, or our rehabilitation coaches, and things like that.”
Jorgensen added in the meantime community members should be vigilant and reach out to friends or family members who may be struggling with an addiction. Counseling services and meetings are available online, on zoom and by phone for those who need help.
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends the availability of drugs will still be a problem Jorgensen noted.
Along with the 112 opioid deaths there were 6 cocaine and 18 non-opioid overdose deaths in DuPage County in 2020.
If you are or know someone who is struggling with an addiction you can call the DuPage County Health Department Crisis Line at 630-627-1700, which is available 24/7.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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