Winnebago County overdose deaths have risen every year since 2015

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Last year, nearly 160 people died of an overdose in Winnebago County.

The number of deaths from opioid overdoses has risen every year since 2015. Last year, there were 159 overdose deaths in the county.

“In Winnebago County, we saw a 28% increase in deaths from the previous year, and we are on track to surpass that [this year],” said Emily Schmidt, who works as a drug overdose prevention specialist at the Winnebago County Health Department.

September is “Recovery Month” in Illinois, where the Department of Human Services is working to raise public awareness of substance abuse disorders.

In Rockford, the Winnebago County Health Department hosts free Narcan training classes. Narcan is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.

“In the training, you can expect to go through what Narcan is, how it works, the legal protections, and really, the steps of how to identify an overdose and respond appropriately,” Schmidt said.

Matt Kindler is a licensed clinical social worker at Restore Counseling and Recovery, an addiction treatment center at 7210 E State Street.

“It’s important, for me especially, to know how to potentially revive someone who’s suffering from an opioid overdose,” he said. “Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is just ravaging our country and our state. You never know when you might happen across someone who has overdosed.”

Kindler says the training is well worth his time.

“Anybody can spare an hour to learn how to properly administer the medication to revive someone who’s in the middle of an overdose,” he said. “One hour is really nothing when you look at what the potential consequences can be.”

The Winnebago County Health Department is offering a free kit which comes with 4 mg’s of the medication to anyone who attends one of the training sessions.

To attend a class, call (815) 720-4000. The Winnebago County Health Department is located at 555 N Court Street.

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