McHenry County sees increases in suspected overdose deaths
McHenry County saw a slight increase in deaths suspected to be related to opioid overdoses during the month of January, according to an alert from the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition.
The alert pertained to suspected drug overdose deaths from Jan. 1 to Jan. 21. Alerts are intended to bring attention to residents when increases in fatal drug overdoses are suspected and to remind those with substance use and abuse disorders of the services the county has to offer, said Laura Crain, program coordinator for the coalition.
"We have to be reminding people that fentanyl is showing up in all sorts of street drugs," Crain said. "We want people to realize McHenry County is resource rich, and we have lots to help you. You don't have to be afraid to ask for help."
Crain declined to provide a specific number of overdose fatalities because in doing so she said she fears identifying those who died, but she said it is fewer than 10.
The last time an alert had been released was June 2021, she said.
Those buying drugs must be aware that many of the street-level drugs are synthetics or laced with fentanyl, Crain said. Where someone might think they are just buying a prescription Xanax or Percocet, they are likely buying fentanyl, which can be a fatal mistake.
McHenry County Coroner Michael Rein is a member of the coalition and said he reported there was a "kind of a spike in possible overdose deaths" in January. However, there still are cases pending.
"It is not necessarily like there is a spike from this year to last year," he said, noting overall drug overdose deaths fell from 2020 to 2021. "Basically, if we see a spike in possible overdose deaths within a certain amount of time, we want to make sure we put an alert out."
The coalition likes to take opportunities like this to remind people that the county has several safe, nonjudgmental places for those seeking recovery programs, fentanyl testing strips and naloxone including Warp Corps, 114 N. Benton St. on the Woodstock Square. Warp Corps can be reached by calling (815) 985-6265 or visiting warpcorps.org.
Warp Corps also offers open house hours from noon to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, with staff on hand from Live4Lali. This is an opportunity for visitors to talk about recovery options, safe consumption of drugs, how to use fentanyl testing strips and how to administer naloxone, said Rob Mutert, founder of Warp Corps.
Warp Corps also offers NARANON meetings from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. This is a support group for family and friends who have someone theys know and love struggling with addictions.
A Way Out Program can be reached by calling (815) 347-0385 and simply saying "I need help." Or the program can be reached by going into McHenry County sheriff's office or any police department, except for Woodstock Police Department, and asking for help, Crain said.
New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, at 14411 Kishwaukee Valley Road in Woodstock, manages A Way Out and offers housing for more than 60 residents in sober living. It also runs The Other Side, a sober bar in Crystal Lake, and Connect to Recovery, a community resource hotline. Peer support staff can be reached by calling (779) 220-0336.
A Way Out and Connect to Recovery assisted 406 people last year, New Directions Executive Director Bobby Gattone said.
Live4Lali provides street outreach services to the cities of McHenry and Woodstock by visiting communities on a truck supplying harm reduction items to prevent overdose. To learn where to find the outreach truck, call (844) 584-5254, ext. 816, or go to the website live4lali.org.