• Katie Nork

Will County on Track for Record-Breaking Heroin Deaths

Photo courtesy of Patch.com

If the trend continues, Will County could see 80 heroin-related deaths this year. Last week, Will County Coroner, Patrick K. O’Neil, confirmed the 58th heroin-related fatality in 2016. The previous record for heroin deaths was at 53 people, in both 2012 and 2015. The coroner’s office also currently has nine cases pending in which heroin is suspected as the cause of death. O’Neil said of the cases, “I would just say the scenes are very suggestive of heroin overdose in those nine cases. We could be on pace for perhaps 80 heroin-related overdoses this year in the county.”

Analogs, which are substances that are chemically similar to certain to illegal drugs, are being mixed with heroin as a booster. O’Neil said that Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate, which is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, is being found mixed into the drug. Fentanyl was blamed to be the cause of death of musician Prince earlier this year. This drug is much cheaper than heroin so it is laced into the drug even though unsuspecting buyers believe they are buying the pure heroin substance. O’Neil said, “There’s no patent on heroin, so who really knows what they’re getting?”

Heroin is the leading cause of overdose deaths in Will County. The second leading cause of overdose deaths in Will County? Medications in pill form. Medications like Xanax, Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet have all caused overdose deaths in Will County. O’Neil said of the pills, “There’s definitely a correlation between the pain meds and the heroin overdoses. A lot of it starts with the prescriptions.”

The Chicago Tribune wrote about heroin earlier in the year, “Like other opiates, heroin is a depressant that slows the body's central nervous system, affecting heart rate and respiration. Paramedics responding to overdose emergencies can administer naloxone, which can revive someone suffering an overdose. The state's Heroin Crisis Act, which took effect Jan. 1, will, in part, increase access to naloxone, which local police departments and paramedics have credited with saving lives.”

On the Will County Coroner’s website, you can find an updated list of all of the overdose deaths in the county, including the age, sex, substances and the location of deaths of all of the victims.

Photo courtesy of CBS News

If you or someone you know has a drug addiction problem, you may call or visit Stepping Stones Treatment Center or any other drug rehabilitation center that you may know of. Stepping Stones Treatment Center is located at 1621 Theodore Street in Joliet. Their phone number is (815) 744-4555 extension #135. For more information on Stepping Stones, visit their website.

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