Illinois county sees its highest number of opioid overdoses

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JOLIET, Ill. — Will County in northern Illinois has seen the highest number of fatal opioid overdoses in its history.

The county coroner’s office reports 85 people died from heroin or fentanyl overdoses in 2017. The (Joliet) Herald-News reports that figure is up from 78 people in 2016 and 53 people in 2015.

Kathleen Burke is the county’s director of substance abuse initiatives. She says there needs to be more treatment facilities and an expansion of the drug Narcan that can counteract the life-threatening effects of an overdose.

Investigating and responding to the crisis can be expensive. Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil says it costs his office more than $100,000 a year to investigate overdose cases.

County officials are suing opioid pharmaceutical manufacturers to try and recoup the costs of battling the crisis.

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