Opioid epidemic hits Illinois hardest in the southern region

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – A newspaper investigation shows that Illinois’ 16 southernmost counties are hardest hit by the state’s opioid epidemic.

Illinois Department of Public Health data show opioids contributed to nearly 1,200 overdose deaths in the state in 2016. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that there were about 3 million Schedule II opioid patients in Illinois annually from 2008 through 2016.

Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program data on such patients during that timeframe show the number of prescriptions across the state increased 18 percent, growing nearly every year, from 1.77 to 2.09 per patient. Prescriptions in the southern 16 counties grew 30 percent, from 2.16 to 2.75 per patient.

The southernmost counties include Hardin, Pope, Saline, Gallatin, Franklin, Massac, Union, Williamson, Alexander, Jackson, Johnson, Perry, Pulaski, White, Randolph and Hamilton counties.
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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com