The Central Illinois opioid crisis affects all ages in all zip codes. That’s the message from a gathering of regional police, fire and community members in East Peoria Wednesday night. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood was one of the event’s panelists. He says the number of overdose deaths recorded in his office last year was nearly double that of 2016.
“In 2016 we recorded 32 overdoses. Those include opioids and other types of drugs. In 2017 we recorded 62 deaths and right now we’re tracking about one a week,” says Harwood.
Harwood says the number of deaths recorded in his office includes residents who lived in surrounding counties but die in Peoria County. “Every zip code, every neighbor - we’re all affected. Our average age of overdoses is 45 years of age. So, it affects every generation as well.”
Harwood adds if the current pace continues Peoria County could see a record number of overdose deaths in 2018. Panelists say they are encouraged by the widespread availability of naloxone, a drug to revive overdose victims. Free naloxone doses are now publicly available in many Central Illinois communities.