Drug overdoses on the rise in southern Illinois


Image result for Drug overdoses on the rise in southern IllinoisBy Joe Ragusa

Drug treatment centers are seeing a rise in drug overdoses.

Heroin and opioids have been the biggest issue but other drugs like cocaine and crystal meth haven’t gone away.

“We see a lot of it in this area and I think sometimes, it’s due to opportunity or availability of the drugs,” Jurich said.

A’nna Jurich, executive director of the Gateway Foundation Treatment Center in Carbondale, said drug use is growing in southern Illinois.

The big culprits are nothing new: heroin, cocaine and crystal meth. But cough syrup is also a concern, especially for young people.

“It’s addictive to them. They want to continue to use it,” Jurich said.

A recent study shows five-percent of young adults abused cough syrup in the past year and Jurich said that could lead to issues with their hearts or lungs.

The problems only get worse if people mix drugs together, something Jurich said she also sees frequently.

The number of overdose deaths when it comes to cocaine and meth have also jumped, nearly double in the case of cocaine from 2014 to 2016 and more than double when it comes to meth in that same time frame.

Jurich said the best prevention for drug abuse is education.

“On what the effects of substances are, educating family members,” Jurich said. “Helping communities and family members understand what to look for to see if there are symptoms of substance use disorder.”

And for people already dealing with substance abuse, preventing a relapse is the biggest challenge.

“How do you avoid getting back into those situations or environments where that’s going to be a problem for you?”

But above all else, communication is key to preventing drug deaths.

Jurich said her drug treatment center occasionally runs out of beds for people dealing with drug abuse so they have to send them to other facilities.

Either way, she encourages anyone struggling with the issue to visit their office.


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