A string of four suspected overdose deaths in the last week is raising concern among public health officials in Kenosha County.
Kenosha County Medical Examiner Patrice Hall said the four deaths since March 22 occurred across Kenosha County – one each in Twin Lakes and Somers, two in the City of Kenosha – and involved two men and two women.
Final determinations on the official causes of these deaths are awaiting toxicology results from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, but Hall said drugs appeared to be present in all four cases.
“Whenever there is an apparent uptick of suspected overdose deaths in a short amount of time, we want to bring this to the attention of our community to make them aware of this trend,” Hall said. “There are resources available in Kenosha County and the surrounding areas for people with substance abuse disorders to receive help. Free Narcan and Narcan training is also available through Kenosha County.”
This recent spate of deaths comes in spite of an encouraging trend as of late.
In 2018, Hall said there were 46 deaths due to toxicity in Kenosha County. That is down 19 percent from 2017, when there were 57 of these deaths.
Toxicity includes deaths due to abuse of any drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin and prescription medications, or a combination thereof.
Kenosha County, mirroring a national trend, has seen a marked uptick in overdose deaths in recent years, many of which have involved the use of opioids/opiates. Opioid drugs include Percocet, Vicodin, oxycodone and fentanyl, while opiates include heroin, morphine and codeine.
In response to this, Kenosha County has obtained state and federal grants to launch and administer drug prevention programs to combat substance abuse and overdose deaths.
The county has also created an Opioid Task Force made up of stakeholders from various sectors of the community, from public health and law enforcement to people in recovery and family members of those struggling with drug use.
The task force holds its meetings, which are open to the public, at 10 a.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Kenosha County Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Road, Kenosha. More information is at http://www.kenoshacounty.org/1917/Opioid-Task-Force.
“Addictive disorder, such as substance abuse and dependence, is a disease.” said Cynthia Johnson, director of the Kenosha County Division of Health. “Addiction develops over time and is a chronic and relapsing illness. Treatment is available. Recovery is possible.”
Further information about prevention, treatment, and resources are listed below:
FREE NARCAN TRAININGS & EDUCATION
KNOW WHAT A SUSPECTED OVERDOSE LOOKS LIKE
For more information, please call the Kenosha County Division of Health at 262-605-6700 or visit http://www.kenoshacounty.org/.