CHICAGO (CBS) — The opioid epidemic has claimed so many lives in Kane County, it is shattering the budget of the local coroner.
His office has performed a record number of autopsies this year. He said some days he’s had so many bodies he had to send some to DuPage County for storage.
It is directly tied to the opioid crisis and many Kane County officials believe it is tied to a lack of treatment options.
The sprawling middle-class neighborhoods Kane County are home to a growing number of people addicted to opioids. So many have overdosed that the Kane County coroner said he can’t afford to autopsy them without an increase in his budget.
Numbers provided by the state health department show Kane County went from 25 overdoses in 2015 to 45 in 2016 and 70 last year.
“When I hear that, I say ‘of course.’ Accessibility to treatment. If you are poor in these counties or anywhere in the state really, treatment isn’t available to you,” said Nate Lanthrum, clinical director at Lighthouse Recovery.
But the spiking numbers in Kane County are getting noticed. Even the newly-elected sheriff said fighting opioid addiction is a priority.
“Two months ago I walked into the jail and realized we didn’t even have Narcan,” said Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain who has since stocked the jail with Narcan, which reverses the effects of opioid overdose. But said most of the people addicted return to the drug when they get out.
“To not have a medically assisted treatment in-house in the jail is a catastrophe,” Hain said.
That’s changing this February when Lighthouse begins offering medication-assisted treatment in the jail. Lanthrum said opioid addiction shouldn’t be seen as a legal issue but a public health crisis.
“If you don’t think this is affecting you, then you’re not paying attention,” said Lanthrum, who added that the cost of social resources, police calls, ambulances, hospital staff and even the cost at the coroner’s office all ends up affecting the entire community.