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Overdose Deaths in DuPage Down 24% from Previous Year

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DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen, M.D. reports a 24% decrease in drug overdoses deaths in 2023 compared to 2022

“Though one year’s statistics does not predict the future, this significant decrease in overdose related deaths is the first positive turn since we began collecting data in 2012. Many people have worked tirelessly to fight this epidemic, and this decrease may be the result of the years of united efforts and resources dedicated to combating this crisis.” Stated Coroner Jorgensen.

Significant tangible factors may have contributed to the decrease we see today:

1. Outreach and Education

In the spring of 2013, when the crisis was becoming apparent, we reached out to schools and the public with open meetings, town-halls and school convocations. Subject matter experts, law enforcement, addiction specialists and those with lived experience participated to heighten public awareness and offer information about the growing epidemic.

2. County-wide Task Force

The DuPage Coalition Against Heroin was the first entity created with the support of the DuPage County Board to address this crisis. The scope of the epidemic expanded and the initial group transitioned into the Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Task Force in 2018 under the administration of the DuPage County Health Dept.

The following were the task force’s framework:

  1. Reduce access to drugs
  2. Reduce opioid use and misuse
  3. Increase overdose response
  4. Integrated mental health & substance use disorder treatment and recovery
  5. Substance use prevention and education

“When we created the Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Taskforce in 2018, it was with the intention that DuPage County would be one place in this country where people are least likely to die from overdose. The Culture of Collaboration which existed in the HOPE Taskforce helped to bring this good news to DuPage County in 2023.”
Stated Co-Chair Lanny Wilson M.D.(also Vice President of the DuPage County Board of Health)

3. DuPage NARCAN Program

Early in 2013 the DuPage County Chiefs of Police Association raised concerns about the increasing number of Police Officers called to suspected drug overdose scenes without the ability to administer lifesaving medication. As a medical doctor licensed in Illinois, Coroner Richard Jorgensen MD wrote the first prescriptions for Narcan (naloxone), an opioid reversal drug, for First Responders to use in such an emergency. The DuPage Narcan Program was created to supply Police Officers with Narcan and train them to properly use it. By the spring of 2014, the DuPage Narcan Program program had procured enough Narcan to supply every police department in DuPage County, trained police officers throughout the county to use it and even offered training to officers in surrounding counties in pursuit of the goal of prevention of overdose deaths. Since then, the DuPage County Health Department has assumed administration of the program. From 2014 to 2023, the DuPage Narcan Program (DNP) had a total of 1,949 uses of Narcan by partners to whom Narcan was supplied. 1,523 (78.1%) of those were successful opioid overdose reversals (saves). The DNP hastrained 7,319 individuals from 2014-2023.

Also, under the leadership of the DuPage County Health Department The DuPage County Prevention Leadership Team (PLT) “came together in 2011 following a county-wide health assessment identifying substance abuse/mental health use were two of the top five health priorities facing DuPage County.” (From PLT Website)

“The DuPage County Health Department and DuPage Narcan Program are pleased to see a significant decrease in the number of lives lost from drug overdoses,” said Adam Forker, Executive Director, DuPage County Health Department. “Beginning in 2014 with the aid of law enforcement, the DuPage Narcan Program expanded its support to encompass family foundations, schools, libraries, community members, and social services organizations. This truly highlights a unified effort to reduce drug overdose fatalities and save lives.”

4. HopeDuPage Website

As a member of the The DuPage Coalition Against Heroin, DuPage County Public Defender Jeff York, and his staff, created the comprehensive website HOPEDUPAGE.  This site is a vast repository of data, education resources, support and counseling, treatment and recovery to address the Opioid epidemic.

“As we tried to wrap our arms around an issue impacting many of our clients and their families, we found the lack of centralized information, especially regarding local resources, was an area where we might make a difference. We set out to create one place for concrete, helpful information regarding education, treatment alternatives, and support for loved ones struggling with opiate use disorder.”
Jeff York
DuPage County Public Defender

5. Community Program Development

Many professional organizations and private citizens have responded to their grief over the loss of a loved one to a drug overdose by creating Not For Profit community organizations to focus awareness on prevention of drug overdose deaths through education about the dangers of opioid abuse and to support the grieving. These organizations have become the backbone of community-based education and support today.

6. DuPage County Drug Court and Focus Court

The development of Alternative Resolution Courts or Problem-Solving Courts to address drug addiction has led to a new focus on treatment and rehabilitation rather than incarceration for offenders charged with non-violent criminal offenses.  These courts allow the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, probation and treatment providers to address each defendant’s criminal offenses and create the most effective treatment regimen to achieve sobriety and long-term recovery for that individual. In DuPage County these courts have been very effective and are models in the state and country.

“The significant reduction in drug overdose deaths is a testament to the hard work taking place in DuPage County’s drug court and FOCUS court. These problem-solving courts are helping support drug users who have become caught in the trap of addiction and providing users with the necessary treatment, counseling, education and support needed to successfully remain on the road to recovery and rehabilitation.”
Robert B. Berlin
DuPage County State’s Attorney

7. DuPage County Jail Focus on Treatment and Rehabilitation

“From the beginning of my term, we have doubled all rehabilitation services and have a partnership with JUST of DuPage, a social service organization specializing in rehabilitation and undiagnosed mental health issues. To date, more than 10 percent of the correctional facility population have graduated from one of the Sheriff’s workforce inmate job training programs. (Sanitation service, indoor/outdoor horticulture, virtual reality welding and small engine repair) We also teamed with the DuPage County Health Department to institute Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for inmates fighting opioid and other addictions.”
James Mendrick
DuPage County Sheriff

Overdose Death Data

There were 114 overdose deaths in 2023 with an increase in non-opioid drugs, especially Cocaine and prescription medications causing or contributing to death. Though the reduced number of overdose deaths in 2023 is positive, the epidemic of opioid and other legal and illegal drugs continues to ravage our county and the types of drugs found in blood of the deceased remain similar to the previous two years. The raw data shows most drugs and classes of drugs in the same percentage of use. We are able to identify this level of data because we use the most sophisticated and extensive level of toxicology testing. This level of investigation affords the utmost confidence in our data.

A significant trend is the continued decrease in the heroin overdose deaths while fentanyl remains the major drug causing death. Heroin continues to be less common to the point of being relatively small as a factor in death (-35%). As heroin continues to decrease in use, Fentanyl in the FDA approved form and in multiple new isomers of various types continues to increase. The greatest concern is the return of Carfentanyl in DuPage County. This isomer of Fentanyl is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is an extremely dangerous drug for users and is extremely hazardous to those who may come in contact with it including First Responders, EMTs and other treating personnel. Cocaine continues to be a more common factor and has an increasing importance in the drugs identified (+15%). Hydroxyzine and Xylazine are newer drugs found in a small number of cases but not in a substantial amount in each case.

We also documented the continuation of polypharmacy, meaning the presence of multiple different types and classes of drugs in the deceased. These trends have increased in the past few years. Thus, analysis of overdoes data is very difficult due to the number and variety of drugs found in the deceased blood. It was commonplace to find up to 15 drugs present, making it difficult to isolate which drug or combination of drugs was responsible for the death. Therefore, we identify 114 overdoses deaths. The additional data lists the frequency of the presence of each drug in any overdose. For example, in 80 of the 114 deaths, fentanyl was present in the toxicology report, in 10 of the 114 deaths heroin was present. This does not identify fentanyl or heroin as the cause of death. Rather, this data is reported to only identify the number of times each drug was present in the toxicology reports. It does not indicate which drug was responsible for the death.


El forense del condado de DuPage, Richard Jorgensen, M.D., informa una disminución del 24% en las muertes por sobredosis de drogas en 2023 en comparación con 2022

“Aunque las estadísticas de un año no predicen el futuro, esta disminución significativa en las muertes relacionadas con sobredosis es el primer giro positivo desde que comenzamos a recopilar datos en 2012. Muchas personas han trabajado incansablemente para combatir esta epidemia, y esta disminución puede ser el resultado de la Años de esfuerzos unidos y recursos dedicados a combatir esta crisis”. afirmó el forense Jorgensen.

Es posible que factores tangibles importantes hayan contribuido a la disminución que vemos hoy:

1. Divulgación y educación

En la primavera de 2013, cuando la crisis se estaba haciendo evidente, nos acercamos a las escuelas y al público con reuniones abiertas, ayuntamientos y convocatorias escolares. Expertos en la materia, agentes del orden, especialistas en adicciones y personas con experiencias vividas participaron para aumentar la conciencia pública y ofrecer información sobre la creciente epidemia.

2. Grupo de trabajo de todo el condado

La Coalición DuPage Contra la Heroína fue la primera entidad creada con el apoyo de la Junta del Condado de DuPage para abordar esta crisis. El alcance de la epidemia se amplió y el grupo inicial pasó al Grupo de Trabajo de Educación y Prevención de Opioides sobre Heroína (HOPE) en 2018 bajo la administración del Departamento de Salud del Condado de DuPage.

El marco del grupo de trabajo fue el siguiente:

Reducir el acceso a las drogas
Reducir el uso y abuso de opioides
Aumentar la respuesta a la sobredosis
Tratamiento y recuperación integrados de salud mental y trastornos por uso de sustancias
Prevención y educación sobre el uso de sustancias.
“Cuando creamos el Grupo de Trabajo sobre Educación y Prevención sobre Heroína/Opioides (HOPE) en 2018, fue con la intención de que el condado de DuPage fuera un lugar en este país donde las personas tuvieran menos probabilidades de morir por sobredosis. La Cultura de Colaboración que existía en el Grupo de Trabajo HOPE ayudó a llevar estas buenas noticias al condado de DuPage en 2023”.
Copresidente declarado Lanny Wilson M.D. (también vicepresidente de la Junta de Salud del Condado de DuPage)

3. Programa DuPage NARCAN

A principios de 2013, la Asociación de Jefes de Policía del Condado de DuPage expresó su preocupación por el creciente número de agentes de policía llamados a escenas donde se sospechaba una sobredosis de drogas sin la capacidad de administrar medicamentos que salvan vidas. Como médico con licencia en Illinois, el forense Richard Jorgensen MD escribió las primeras recetas de Narcan (naloxona), un medicamento para revertir los opioides, para que los socorristas lo usaran en tal emergencia. El Programa DuPage Narcan fue creado para suministrar Narcan a los oficiales de policía y capacitarlos para usarlo adecuadamente. Para la primavera de 2014, el Programa DuPage Narcan había adquirido suficiente Narcan para abastecer a todos los departamentos de policía del condado de DuPage, había capacitado a agentes de policía de todo el condado para utilizarlo e incluso había ofrecido capacitación a agentes de los condados circundantes en pos del objetivo de prevención de muertes por sobredosis. Desde entonces, el Departamento de Salud del Condado de DuPage ha asumido la administración del programa. De 2014 a 2023, el Programa DuPage Narcan (DNP) tuvo un total de 1,949 usos de Narcan por parte de socios a quienes se les suministró Narcan. 1.523 (78,1%) de ellos lograron revertir (salvar) una sobredosis de opioides. El DNP ha capacitado a 7,319 personas entre 2014 y 2023.

Además, bajo el liderazgo del Departamento de Salud del Condado de DuPage, el Equipo de Liderazgo de Prevención (PLT) del Condado de DuPage “se reunió en 2011 luego de una evaluación de salud en todo el condado que identificó que el abuso de sustancias y el uso de salud mental eran dos de las cinco prioridades de salud principales que enfrenta el Condado de DuPage. .” (Del sitio web de PLT)

“El Departamento de Salud del Condado de DuPage y el Programa Narcan de DuPage se complacen en ver una disminución significativa en la cantidad de vidas perdidas por sobredosis de drogas”, dijo Adam Forker, Director Ejecutivo del Departamento de Salud del Condado de DuPage. “A partir de 2014, con la ayuda de las autoridades, el Programa DuPage Narcan amplió su apoyo para abarcar fundaciones familiares, escuelas, bibliotecas, miembros de la comunidad y organizaciones de servicios sociales. Esto realmente resalta un esfuerzo unificado para reducir las muertes por sobredosis de drogas y salvar vidas”.

4. Sitio web HopeDuPage

Como miembro de la Coalición DuPage contra la Heroína, el defensor público del condado de DuPage, Jeff York, y su personal crearon el sitio web integral HOPEDUPAGE. Este sitio es un vasto depósito de datos, recursos educativos, apoyo y asesoramiento, tratamiento y recuperación para abordar la epidemia de opioides.

“Mientras tratábamos de comprender un problema que afectaba a muchos de nuestros clientes y sus familias, descubrimos que la falta de información centralizada, especialmente con respecto a los recursos locales, era un área en la que podíamos marcar la diferencia. Nos propusimos crear un lugar para obtener información concreta y útil sobre educación, alternativas de tratamiento y apoyo para los seres queridos que luchan contra el trastorno por consumo de opiáceos”.
jeff york
Defensor Público del Condado de DuPage

5. Desarrollo de programas comunitarios

Muchas organizaciones profesionales y ciudadanos privados han respondido a su dolor por la pérdida de un ser querido por una sobredosis de drogas creando

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