Peoria County sees a 40% increase in overdoses, coroner says harm reduction efforts need to continue

Health News

PEORIA COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD)– Overdoses in Peoria County jumped 40% when comparing this year’s first-quarter numbers to those of 2019’s first quarter. The rise is putting the Peoria County coroner’s office on alert.

“It’s really disheartening. If we compare 2018 to 2019, we had a 38% reduction in our overdose deaths, which was a huge win that we attribute to harm reduction,” said Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood. “So, those harm reduction strategies worked and they can continue to work, but we have to have the availability of a little bit of reduction of the social distancing and things like that. We have to maintain our access for people who need it.”

The coroner said numerous aspects of life can impact the overdose quantity, like restrictions to substance use disorder programs, stressors caused by the stay at home order, and even seclusion from others, which is exacerbated by COVID-19 protocols.

“They don’t have the access to their support systems, their counselors, to even maybe a methadone clinic might have reduced hours or different access so it’s spreading across,” said Harwood. “I don’t want our efforts in harm reduction to go away, I want us to continue to focus on our harm reduction strategies so we don’t see an increase that goes throughout our year.”

Peoria’s Jolt Harm Reduction Center has Narcan available. Its hours of operation are Mon-Friday noon to 3 p.m. In an effort to reduce foot traffic in it’s NE Adams location, it’s also offering delivery between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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