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Deadliest McLean County Overdose Year Ends; First OD Death Already In 2018

Patrick Sison
McLean County has already had the first overdose of 2018, pending test results

Drug overdose deaths in McLean County rose more than 150 percent last year.

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis said Monday there were 40 confirmed overdose deaths in 2017 and two more possible, awaiting test results. That's compared to 16 in 2016.

Davis said many involved lab-manufactured drugs added to traditional heroin.

"I see a lot with the synthetic fentanyls that are now present. This is new to McLean County. In 2015 we did not have such deaths. I think we had one and that seemed odd. We heard a lot about it from the national level, but it hadn't hit McLean County," said Davis.

Davis said fentanyl mixed with heroin is so powerful even a first time use can result in death. They can cause overdose reactions because often drug users don't know the strength of the mix they are taking.

The newest variation seen in Bloomington-Normal is Carfentanyl. That is is so powerful, a dose in the amount of a grain of salt can be fatal. She said it's not like you can gain a tolerance; you just end up dying. Davis said one Carfentanyl overdose happened last year in the Twin Cities.
Davis said she hopes education efforts will reduce the number of overdose deaths in 2018.

"When you look at a national level, and I have talked with the Illinois State Police, it's coming from Mexico and from the Asian markets," said Davis.

McLean County has already had the first overdose of 2018, pending test results, said Davis.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.