Chicago’s crime rate isn’t the only thing at an all-time high, so is the city’s opioid epidemic.
Just this year, more than 2,800 people have been shot and there are been 500 homicides so far. But, the opioid overdose numbers are even more terrifying.
18 overdosed on heroin, morphine or other opioid drugs a day in 2016– that’s a total of 6,590 overdoses for the year.
Apparently, no area of the city hasn’t been touched by the overdose problem.
“These powerfully addictive drugs are showing up in all corners of the city. The data show there were 35 overdoses at the city’s airports combined, one outside both the Cubs and White Sox ballparks, five at Navy Pier and six along the Magnificent Mile,” writes ABC7. “In 2016, there was at least one overdose on every block of State Street from Congress Parkway all the way to the river – that’s 78 people overdosing last year in less than a mile, right in the heart of the Loop.”
What’s contributing to the problem is that many people are getting these drugs legally through doctors who overprescribe.
So how is the city combating this issue? By making it easier for drug users to dispose of their needles and to get clean needles.
“Some addicts believe the drug epidemic is behind the addition of needle disposal boxes on the walls of public restrooms. So-called “sharps containers” are available at upscale grocery stores and even suburban malls. Chicago Recovery Alliance’s Dan Bigg says his group seeks to fulfill their mission of “Any Positive Change” by connecting opioid addicts with clean injection supplies and passing out thousands of lifesaving doses of naloxone also known as Narcan. They say their kits reversed more than 1500 overdoses in the past year,” writes ABC7.
This isn’t enough. There need to be more raids by authorities.
This problem is prevenient all over the U.S., but some departments are handling it better than others.
Prosecutors in New York, for example, announced last week that they completed a raid of 140 pounds of fentanyl. This is enough to kill 32 million people.
While in areas like Cincinnati, Narcan, the medication to reserve overdoses, is being aggressively distributed.
In 2015, 33,000 Americans died due to opioid overdoses. The number of overdose deaths has more than doubled in the last 15 years, while opioid overdoses have tripled.
Now the average American life expectancy is less because of this problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It found that the average American life expectancy grew overall from 2000 to 2015, but that the astounding rise in opioid-related deaths shaved 2.5 months off this improvement. That’s .21 years, compared to the .02 years taken off the average life expectancy by alcohol overdose,” writes the Chicago Tribune.
“It really underlines how serious the problem of opioid overdose has become in the U.S.,” said Deborah Dowell, the senior medical adviser in the division of unintentional injury prevention at CDC, to Time. “In general we don’t see decreases in life expectancy attributable to a single cause that are of this magnitude.”
Opioid overdoses are getting much closer to the twelfth leading cause of death, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, which claimed 40,326 people in 2015.
Author’s note: All departments across the country need to crack down on this drug before it’s too late. Like Chicago’s crime, the opioid overdoses are out of control and that didn’t happen by accident. It’s because of years of poor governing.