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McHenry County Mental Health Board announces overdose death reduction

DeKalb firefighter Luke Howieson shows a nasal application for naloxone, also known by its brand name, Narcan, on Aug. 16, 2017, at the Fire Station 1 in DeKalb. Many municipalities supply police officers with a nasal version of the lifesaving drug.
DeKalb firefighter Luke Howieson shows a nasal application for naloxone, also known by its brand name, Narcan, on Aug. 16, 2017, at the Fire Station 1 in DeKalb. Many municipalities supply police officers with a nasal version of the lifesaving drug.

The McHenry County Mental Health Board on Wednesday said there has been a significant reduction in the number of overdose deaths in the county for the second year in a row.

According to data verified by the McHenry County Coroner’s Office, 27 overdose deaths – with another five pending cases – were reported in fiscal 2019. This is down from the 51 deaths reported in 2018 and the 78 deaths reported in 2017.

Scott Block, executive director of the health board, said in a news release that he attributed the decline to the hard work of all the medical professionals and institutions in the county.

“From lifesaving efforts, including law enforcement and public access to Narcan, school-based prevention services, drug take-back programs, adult and youth outpatient treatment services, medication-assisted treatment, the drug court, recovery homes and sober living opportunities, many strategies are being deployed,” Block said. “Although there is always room to enhance and build upon current strategies, no part of the continuum of services has gone unaddressed.”

Naloxone, often referred to by its brand name, Narcan, is a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Laura Crain, drug-free program coordinator for the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition, said in the release that although the numbers are down, there still is an upward trend of fentanyl-laced substances that contribute to overdoses. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Therefore, it is important for the community to remain diligent in its lifesaving efforts, she added.

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