Drug deaths down in DuPage County, coroner says

Deaths due to drug overdoses dropped 24% in 2023 compared to the year before, DuPage County Coroner Dr. Richard Jorgensen announced Wednesday.

Jorgensen said in his report that the decline is the first since his office began keeping track of overdose deaths in 2012.

“I was so surprised that I had to look at it (the data) again and again,” he said Wednesday.

It may be due to several factors, he said, including the work of the Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education task force, the increased availability of the narcotic-reversal drug naloxone, community programs, drug treatment at the DuPage County jail, and drug treatment court. “A lot of really important work that has been done by a lot of people over the years,” he said.

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He noted that one years’ statistic doesn’t predict the future, but he hopes it means the county is “turning the battleship,” he said.

Deaths attributable to heroin use declined; it was present in toxicology tests of just 10 people.

Fentanyl was present in 80 of the deaths. Cocaine was present in 50 deaths.

Jorgensen said it is common to find as many as 15 drugs in the toxicology tests of those who die of an overdose, including prescription opioids, alcohol, cocaine, cannabinoids, amphetamines, antidepressants and sedatives.

The report also said that the opioid carfentanil is returning to DuPage County. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is 10 times more potent than heroin.

The ages of people who die due to overdose has increased over the years, he said. The top group is people in their 30s, followed by people in their 40s, Jorgensen said.

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