Newly released overdose statistics for DuPage County show a decrease in the number of opioid related deaths from 2020 to 2021, but an increase in the number of overdose deaths in general. DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen says the growing factor in the majority of overdose deaths is the presence of fentanyl.
Jorgensen says the opioid epidemic, as well as the use of illegal and legal drugs continues to be a problem for DuPage County. Changes in drug use and the types of drugs being abused seem to have shifted within the past seven years. Prior to 2015, the most common drugs found in the system of an overdose victim were heroin or prescription drugs. But beginning in 2015, illicit fentanyl in various forms began showing up. Examiners also began to note more of a mix of drugs within the system.
Fentanyl Major Factor
According to Jorgensen, fentanyl has now become the major drug leading to death. That remained the case for both 2020 and 2021, with 33 deaths and 29 deaths respectively those years attributed solely to that drug. In 2021, the next largest group of deaths was found to be from non-opioid overdoses, totaling 26. That’s up from 2020, when there were 18.
The mixture of fentanyl and other drugs led to many deaths as well, with 83% of opioid overdoses in 2021 showing some fentanyl in the blood. There were 13 cases of overdose from a fentanyl/heroin mixture, 17 from a fentanyl/heroin/cocaine mixture, and 16 from a fentanyl/cocaine mixture. The coroner noted that because of the difficulty of the poly pharmacy, it was often hard to determine which drug was the primary cause of death, as often one would find up to 15 drugs in the person’s system.
Overdose Age Groups
In terms of age groups, the largest number of overdoses in 2021 was in the 30 to 39-year-old set. This follows a trend noted by Jorgensen of increasing age of the deceased. In 2013, those in their 20s and 30s were the top two age groups for overdose deaths. In 2021, the highest numbers were in those in their 30s through 50s.
Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.
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