Drug overdose deaths dropped in McLean County in 2018 after a dramatic rise the year before.
Coroner Kathy Yoder said there were 28 confirmed overdose deaths in 2018 with two more possible cases awaiting testing. That's down from 40 overdoses in 2017.
“I think we are educating the community and Narcan is available,” Yoder said, referring to the powerful opioid antidote. “That could hopefully be the change. Sadly the drug overdoses are still occurring.”
Yoder said the overdose cases rose sharply in the middle of 2017 after Bloomington-Normal saw the emergence of synthetic fentanyls that could be mixed with heroin.
“I didn’t think it was possible to go up to 40 (deaths), so I’m hoping it’s a trend that’s going to go down now that the opioids aren’t as readily available and that people are aware that heroin being mixed with fentanyl is a dangerous drug,” Yoder said.
Law enforcement and health officials in McLean County have placed considerable emphasis on combatting opioid addiction over the last year along with their counterparts across Illinois.
The state has also passed several measures aimed at curbing the epidemic, including one that approves medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids.
“We don’t want anyone to die from an accident,” Yoder said. “These are things that are completely preventable.”
Drug-related suicides rose in McLean County, from four in 2017 to seven last year.
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