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Opioid deaths are skyrocketing

Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017

* SJ-R

[Gateway Foundation’s Springfield Treatment Center] has seen the substances plaguing its clients change drastically over the past five years as a nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse took hold in downstate Illinois, Henry said.

Gateway, which draws clients primarily from 60 downstate counties, used to serve more alcoholics but now sees 85 percent of its clients dealing with addictions from heroin, prescription drugs and other opioids, she said. […]

Statewide, the 1,826 opioid-related deaths reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health for 2016 represent more than a 70 percent increase compared with 2013 and a 32 percent increase compared with the 1,382 opioid-related deaths in 2015.

In Sangamon County, there have been 33 opioid-related deaths so far in 2017, compared with 23 in all of 2016, 41 in 2015, 32 in 2014, 14 in 2013 and 29 in 2012, according to Coroner Cinda Edwards.

At least 17 of 2017′s opioid deaths were caused by heroin overdoses, Edwards said, compared with nine heroin deaths in all of 2016 and 21 in 2015.

The full state report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 12:51 pm:

    It would be interesting to know how many of these deaths came from addiction through prescribed pain medication (to heroin as a cost factor compared to prescription opioids) and how many came right through the “recreational” track….

  2. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    And Rauner’s “Crisis-Chaos” business plan for Illinois has not helped stem this crisis. Forming a new committee is a good step, but it is facing a much more difficult task due to Rauner’s CEO approach to governing.

    “In the last five years detox centers in the state have closed because of funding. Meanwhile, the need for beds is growing, especially in the rural counties,” said Joan Hartman, Chestnut’s central region manager.

    Also at Rosecrance-

    And there were more…

  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    And in the midst of this deadly crisis, state-contracted drug treatment centers across the state were shutting down due to lack of payment by the state. That was squeeze the beast in action.

    This crisis has been going on for years. Shouldnt we be a little farther ahead in the game than a recently appointed governor’s task force?

    We have a Department of Public Health, right? Have not the professionals there been on it, researching best practices in place already in other states?

    It’s a crisis right now. Executive action is required.

    What’s the governor’s projected ROI on the Turnaround Agenda to cover that cost?

  4. - Free Set of Steak Knives - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    How long is the waiting list for treatment currently?

  5. - downstate hack - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    So Sad, Don’t know any real answers, but we need to do something.

  6. - DeseDemDose - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    Treatment is difficult to get everywhere in Illinois and unfortunately these deaths will continue to skyrocket. This horror has gone way past crisis phase.

  7. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    Free Set of Steak Knives - From an NPR program earlier this year

    “Waiting lists for treatment can run two months or longer, depending on the type of drug a person is using,” Werkmeister said. “Generally, people have to detox before they qualify for residential treatment. But that waiting period puts them at risk for a relapse.”

  8. - Casual observer - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:24 pm:

    What’s with these task forces, committees, and commissions at the local, state and federal level? Has anything, of any substance, come out of any of them? Do they realize they are all talking about the same thing? Are they looking for a silver bullet to solve this? Why not baby steps?

    Sorry for all the questions but this is frustrating. I have to believe that the availability of detox facilities will be a common recommendation from them all. Why fight it?

  9. - Rogue Roni - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    Legalize cannabis already.

  10. - We'll See - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    The relapse rate for opioid addiction is incredibly high (in the 90th percentile) this impacts the waiting list for treatment and sadly drives the overdose rate.

  11. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:54 pm:

    My wife was a healthcare professional back in the 1980s when you could get a 28 day treatment over and over again. Only 10% of those getting the treatment actually stayed off the drugs for more than 3 years. The rest kept coming back to “clean up” and get healthy enough to start the drug abuse cycle over again. When the “one time” rule went into effect, the insurance program died.

  12. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    From a little research, most 90 programs cost about $60,000 and methadone costs about $5,000 per year. Detox is about $1500, depending on where you get it. Fixing the problem after addiction doesn’t seem to work very well, as there typically is a 90% recidivism rate. The crime and lost productivity is the biggest financial issue, and that runs as much as $46 billion per year nationwide. We need to treat the culture to solve this problem, NOT the individual. IT just doesn’t work….

  13. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 2:14 pm:

    AB- The cultural problem is not just on the streets. It can start in the doctor’s office, as can one of the solutions to the opioid crisis- limit pills and work on other forms of pain management.

  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 2:39 pm:

    AB, what “culture” are you talking about? Prescribing Physician? Ohio River Valley? Suburban High School? Deep South? Rural White? Inner-city Black? New England? Florida Pill Mill? Big Pharma Marketing?

    You’re hinting at a non-medical “cultural” solution. Show us your magic elixir.

  15. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 2:39 pm:


    I totally agree, anon. In these days where “physicians assistants” see you for most ailments and you may not see a doctor for years, follow up, personal care and concern has all but dried up in medicine. Funny thing. We’re now getting PAs with a fraction of the skills of an MD, yet they’re charging us the same rates as they did for the MDs. What a surprise!

  16. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 2:48 pm:


    It’s not “magic”, word, its marketing. You flood the media with scorn and negative images of those using meth, cocaine, and horse. You put out music telling listeners that only a scumbag would do H, someone not “cool” and worthy of ridicule.

    You say it would never work? I would have said the same thing about tobacco products 50 years ago. Just about EVERBODY smoked then. Now it’s pretty rare. We kept the smoking contempt going long and hard, stopped glamourizing it. Unfortunately the decrease in smoking happened as the living generations of smokers died off and weren’t replaced because it wasn’t “cool” any more. Same could happen with other drugs, but perhaps quicker since they’re illegal.

  17. - Mr B. - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 2:58 pm:

    I see this in Chicago for sure. Heroin kids on the street. That drug in particular needs treatment. Users are horribly hooked on it.

  18. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 3:55 pm:

    This makes me literally sick to my stomach. We are losing so many people. I don’t understand why this is not the biggest issue in the gubernatorial election.

  19. - Former State Employee - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 5:00 pm:

    The former Surgeon General of the US, declared this the #1 public health crisis…..unfortunately, he’s gone and at the federal level not much is going on to address what is truly a crisis.

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