Author Archives: lakecounty2014

CDC says: Fentanyl Surpasses Heroin As Drug Most Often Involved In Deadly Overdoses

Fentanyl is now the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths in the U.S., according to a National Vital Statistics System report published Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report sheds a bright light on the changing nature of America’s drug landscape — and the devastating number of overdose deaths that have occurred in the U.S. in recent years.

Back in 2011, oxycodone was the drug most commonly linked to overdose deaths. Starting in 2012 and lasting until 2015, heroin surpassed painkillers to become the drug most often involved. But then fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, infiltrated the American drug supply — what the CDC calls “the third wave” of the opioid epidemic. By 2016, overdose deaths involving fentanyl had become more common than any other.

Researchers found that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl (or one of its analogs) doubled each year from 2013 to 2016. Deaths involving heroin have also continued to rise, increasing threefold from 2011 to 2016.

These numbers have only continued to rise in 2017, according to a separate CDC data brief issued in November. It states that the rate of overdose deaths involving fentanyl had risen to 9 per 100,000 people, compared to 6.2 per 100,000 in 2016.

The numbers in the National Vital Statistics System report show how fentanyl took a lethal hold quickly after the drug widely entered the American drug market. In 2011 and again 2012, fentanyl was mentioned in about 1,600 drug overdose deaths. By 2016, fentanyl was connected to 18,335 such deaths: it was linked to 29 percent of all drug overdose deaths that year.

In more than two-thirds of the overdose deaths involving fentanyl, one or more other drugs were present. That’s not surprising, because drugs including heroin and cocaine are now often sold with fentanyl mixed in. Sometimes people believe they are taking pure heroin or cocaine, but the drug is laced with fentanyl. Such situations can easily lead to overdose.

The report also highlights the importance for accurate reporting in the text of death certificates. A study published earlier this year found that the U.S. has been undercounting opioid-related deaths by 20 to 35 percent, due to varying standards between states and counties for investigating and reporting overdose deaths. Coroners and medical examiners often don’t state exactly which drugs contributed to a death on a death certificate.


Fentanyl Test Strips now Available

The Lake County Health Department has just added fentanyl test strips to be given to participants that comes in for clean needles and supplies. With these strips they can test to see if there is Fentanyl in the product they are planning on using.

This is a program partnership between the Lake County Health Department, the Chicago Recovery Alliance and Live4Lali. For a flyer click here.

You can find this service at the
Lake County Health Department
Belvidere Medical Building
2400 Belvidere Road, Room 1132
Waukegan, IL 60085

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Other Harm Reduction Services that are available:

  • Naloxone, clean needles, fentanyl test strips, and condoms
  • HIV and Hepatitis C testing
  • Counseling
  • Medical Care
  • Dental Care
  • Women’s Health
  • and more

For more information, call:
Lake County Health Department at (847) 377-8450
Live4Lali at (844) 584-5254


Resource: Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

nih-nida-logoThis is an overview of a great page on the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website, which has quite a few links and research around medications for opioid’s.

An estimated 2.1 million people in the United States had a substance use disorder related to prescription opioid pain medicines in 2016.1 However, only a fraction of people with prescription opioid use disorders receive specialty treatment (17.5 percent in 2016).1 Overdose deaths linked to these medicines were five times higher in 2016 than 1999.2 There is now also a rise in heroin use and heroin use disorder as some people shift from prescription opioids to their cheaper street relative; 626,000 people had a heroin use disorder in 2016, and more than 15,000 Americans died of a heroin overdose in 2016.1,3 Besides overdose, consequences of the opioid crisis include a rising incidence of infants born dependent on opioids because their mothers used these substances during pregnancy4,5 and increased spread of infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C (HCV), as was seen in 2015 in southern Indiana.6

Effective prevention and treatment strategies exist for opioid misuse and use disorder but are highly underutilized across the United States. An initiative of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)7 began in 2015 to address the complex problem of prescription opioid and heroin use. In 2017, HHS announced five priorities for addressing the opioid crisis:

  1. improving access to treatment and recovery services
  2. promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs
  3. strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
  4. providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
  5. advancing better practices for pain management

Effective medications exist to treat opioid use disorder: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. These medications could help many people recover from opioid use disorder, but they remain highly underutilized. Fewer than half of private-sector treatment programs offer medications for opioid use disorders, and of patients in those programs who might benefit, only a third actually receive it.9 Overcoming the misunderstandings and other barriers that prevent wider adoption of these treatments is crucial for tackling the problem of opioid use disorder and the epidemic of opioid overdose in the United States.

For more go here.

The A Way Program turns 2 this month

AWO LogoThe Lake County Opioid Initiative (LCOI) is proud to announce that the Waukegan Police Department and the Lake Zurich Police Department have been added as entry points for the Lake County Opioid Initiative’s ‘A Way Out’ (AWO) Program. With these additions, there are now a total of thirteen ‘A Way Out’ police entry points across Lake County.
“The City of Waukegan is very grateful for the opportunity to join this program.  This will be another tool that the Waukegan Police Department will have to combat the opioid crisis and further assist our residents and their families in mitigating the direct and indirect effects of opioid abuse,” said Wayne Walles, Waukegan Police Chief.

395 participants have accessed treatment via the ‘A Way Out’ Program

The eleven police departments currently participating in the program include:

  • Deerfield Police Department
  • Fox Lake Police Department
  • Grayslake Police Department
  • Gurnee Police Department
  • Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s Marine Unit, Sheriff’s Highway Patrol
  • Lake Forest Police Department
  • Libertyville Police Department
  • Mundelein Police Department
  • Round Lake Beach Police Department
  • Round Lake Park Police Department
  • Zion Police Department

‘A Way Out’ is a program developed by the Lake County Opioid Initiative to create additional treatment access points, reduce crime, reduce substance-related harms, and re-frame the role law enforcement plays in community safety. Through the program, people seeking help for their substance use can go to one of the police entry points and request help. The police work with the Lake County Health Department to find appropriate treatment for the individual. Substance use is a public health problem, and this program addresses it as such.

The current participating police departments have helped 395 individuals access treatment since ‘A Way Out’s’ inception on June 1, 2016. The total number of individuals helped into a treatment provider by year are:

  • 60 individuals in 2016
  • 209 individuals in 2017
  • 96 individuals up to May 2018

AWO’s largest residential and outpatient treatment providers are: Gateway Lake Villa, the Lake County Health Department, Chicago Behavioral Health Hospital, and NICASA Behavioral Health Services. Furthermore, AWO is averaging just over 15 participants per month – with September 2017 being the largest served month as 34 participants accessed treatment.

  • Approximately, 78% of AWO’s total placement is to residential treatment programs
  • The average age of the participant is 32.5 years old.

“The Lake Zurich Police Department is looking forward to being able to offer treatment options to those who need them through the ‘A Way Out’ program. This is a vital community care-taking function that the Department is committed to,” said Steve Husak, Lake Zurich Police Department.

The Lake County Opioid Initiative is committed to developing, implementing, evaluating and sustaining a multi-strategy county-wide effort to prevent opioid abuse, addiction, overdose, and death.

In addition to the ‘A Way Out’ program, the Lake County Opioid Initiative has launched other programs to help support citizens impacted by the opioid epidemic. The Police Naloxone Program has saved 262 lives since December 25, 2014. Text-A-Tip, a digital crisis intervention service, has received a total of 17,039 texts since September 30, 2015. Finally, the Lake County Opioid Initiative has collaborated with community leaders to bring prevention education information to parents and students. In the year 2018, a total of five opioid/heroin prevention education programs have been conducted across Lake County.

LCOI also supports a network of prescription disposal boxes in Lake County. Partnerships include: Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO); municipal law enforcement, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Lake County Health Department, the Lake County Opioid Initiative, and the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force. In the year 2017, over 13,000 pounds of unwanted/unused prescription drugs were collected.

To raise funds to continue accessibility of these programs, the Lake County Opioid Initiative will be hosting its first annual ‘Save a Life’ fundraising event at the Double-Tree by Hilton in Mundelein, IL on September 14, 2018 at 6:30pm.

For more information regarding the ‘A Way Out’ program, please visit

Joint State’s Attorneys Letter to the Editor

dh-logo-252x50As state’s attorneys working to counter the devastating effects of opioids in our communities, we appreciated the recent visit of U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams to Sugar Grove. We agree with him that the availability of naloxone — the antidote to an opioid overdose — is a key tool to save lives.

In addition, as law enforcement officials, we are committed to aggressively pursuing drug dealers and cartels, promoting drug drop-off programs where people can safely get rid of their old prescriptions, and taking action in court against pharmaceutical companies that have lied about the exceptionally addictive nature of their opioid products.

We also believe that it is time to open up a new front in this fight to save lives. There are two sides of this problem: supply and demand. The above measures focus on opioid supply — but we need to be equally aggressive in reducing demand.

That effort has to start in early childhood. A new report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids — an organization of which we are all members — has released a report showing that home visiting programs for new and expecting parents can reduce traumatic experiences for children. That, in turn, can reduce the likelihood that children will misuse or become addicted to both prescription and illicit opioids once they become teens or adults.

It is our hope that these voluntary “parent-coaching” programs for at-risk parents — and similar, prevention-oriented early childhood efforts — will be fully funded and protected in the state budget that Illinois leaders are assembling. Investing in prevention oriented programs now will pay dividends in the future. Prevention, starting in kids’ earliest years of life, must be an essential component in our strategies to overcome the grave outcomes of opioid dependency.

Robert Berlin, DuPage County State’s Attorney
Joseph McMahon, Kane County State’s Attorney
Michael Nerheim, Lake County State’s Attorney


Some Drug Disposal coverage from WBBM

To see the video click the link below.

Fighting The Opioid Epidemic At Drop-Off Sites

Drug Disposal Day this Saturday

We’re deeply concerned by the opioid crisis that has impacted families in every corner of the United States. We started by thinking about how to bring Google’s technical expertise to help families combat the epidemic.

Research by the federal government has shown that prescription drug abuse is a large driver of opioid addiction, and that the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family or friends, often from a home medicine cabinet. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has found that one way that Americans can help prevent drug abuse and addiction is to properly dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs. Yet many people aren’t aware of, or can’t easily find, prescription drug disposal programs in their communities.

Using Google Maps API, our team worked with the DEA to create a locator tool for the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday, April 28. The locator tool can help anyone find a place near them to safely dispose of leftover prescription medications.

For the map and the rest of the article click here.

Surgeon general urges Americans to carry overdose antidote

downloadThe nation’s chief doctor wants more Americans to start carrying the overdose antidote naloxone to help combat the nation’s opioid crisis and save lives.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is expected to speak about the new public health advisory Thursday morning at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

In a news release, Adams said he hopes those who are at risk — as well as their friends and family members — will keep the antidote on hand and learn how to use it.

“Each day we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose — that’s one person every 12.5 minutes,” Adams said in a statement. “It is time to make sure more people have access to this lifesaving medication, because 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home.”

More than 42,000 Americans suffered fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, his statement said.

Naloxone can restore a person’s breathing after it is injected or sprayed in the nostrils, quickly bringing overdose victims back from near-death.

The drug, which, is often referred to by the brand name Narcan, is available over the counter in most states and is regularly used by first responders across the country. A two-dose pack of Narcan is among many options available and the drug is increasingly covered by insurance, according to The Network for Public Health Law, a nonprofit that helps government agencies. As of July 2017, all 50 states have passed laws improving naloxone access, the nonprofit said.

Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the push, arguing that naloxone doesn’t treat addiction and merely discourages people from seeking treatment by essentially offering a safety net if they do overdose.

Proponents, however, argue that greater access to naloxone doesn’t draw people to illegal drug use or foster an addiction.

“To manage opioid addiction and prevent future overdoses, increased naloxone availability must occur in conjunction with expanded access to evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder,” Adams said in a statement.

Adams’ recommendation for more people to possess naloxone comes a month after Philadelphia’s health department urged residents to do the same.

Prior to his current role, Adams had been Indiana’s health commissioner, where he promoted needle-exchange programs aimed at stemming the spread of diseases among intravenous drug users.

Mike Nerheim on the Opioid Crisis


Last week, Morning Shift looked at the opioid crisis inside Chicago, specifically how it’s affecting communities of color. Today we’re moving farther out from the city to the “collar counties”. Today we talk with the state’s attorneys from DuPage and Lake counties to find out how the epidemic is affecting those areas, and what’s being done to stem the tide of addiction, overdoses, and deaths.

To listen to the show (20 Minutes)
Click the show logo.

morning shift

Mike Nerheim, State’s Attorney for Lake County
Robert Berlin, State’s Attorney for DuPage County

Walmart, Jewel-Osco take steps to help curb opioid epidemic

Easier disposal of drugs,  over-the-counter sale of OD antidote offered

By Corilyn Shropshire and Lauren Zumbach Chicago Tribune

Walmart and Jewel-Osco are joining the list of retailers making efforts to address the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The world’s largest retailer said it wants to limit abuse of prescription opioids by making it easier for patients to dispose of leftover drugs. Meanwhile, Jewel-Osco is making opioid overdose antidote Narcan available to buy over the counter, the company announced Tuesday.

Walmart pharmacies will provide patients free packets of a product that when combined with leftover medications and warm water in a pill bottle forms a biodegradable gel that can be safely tossed in the trash, as the drugs can’t be extracted for abuse, according to manufacturer DisposeRx. All patients filling new opioid prescriptions at Walmart will receive a packet of DisposeRx when picking up their medications, Walmart said. Patients with chronic prescriptions will be offered one every six months, and existing patients can request a packet at any time at Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies.

To reduce the risk of misuse or accidental exposure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends patients dispose of unneeded medications through official take-back programs. When that’s not an option, the agency recommends flushing certain medicines, including opioids, down the toilet, saying the benefits of getting rid of the drugs outweigh any potential environmental risks.

Walmart believes its solution is easier because “it can all happen responsibly at home,” said Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of consumables and health and wellness at Walmart U.S.

At Jewel-Osco, Narcan, the brand name for nasal spray naloxone, can be bought without a prescription for $157.69 to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. The drug will be dispensed by pharmacists at the patient’s request.

Walmart said it will have naloxone for behind-the-counter sale or dispensing by a pharmacist in all states where it’s legally able to do so, including Illinois, this month. Walgreens and CVS began stocking naloxone in the fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association have recommended doctors consider co-prescribing opioids and naloxone under certain circumstances, such as when patients have a history of substance abuse or also use certain other sedatives.

Narcan is a concentrated naloxone nasal spray that competes with opioids to bind with the same receptors in the brain. It normally reverses the effects of opioid overdose in two to three minutes.

In 2016, 1,946 people died after overdosing on opioids in Illinois, according to the state.