A new report released in February by the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) shows that the West Side communities had the highest annual mortality rates of acute opioid exposure-overdose from 2016 to June 2020.
The report — by Alfreda Holloway-Beth and Nhan Nguyen of the county public health department’s Epidemiology Unit, and Lee Friedman with the University of Illinois Chicago’s School of Public Health — gathered results from the Illinois Poison Center, outpatient and emergency department data from area hospitals, and the Cook County Medical Examiner.
The city of Chicago, which has its own public health department, is not included in the Cook County health department’s jurisdiction, but data from certain Chicago zip codes was included in the report “to contextualize the data which has adversely impacted our entire county,” the authors wrote.
West Garfield Park (60624) saw an average of 160 deaths caused by acute opioid exposure-overdose between 2016 and June 2020, for a rate of 93.3 per 100,000 residents each year during that period — the highest rate of any zip code in the city.
Austin (60644) saw an average of 185 deaths caused by acute opioid exposure-overdose between 2016 and June 2020, for a rate of 84.5 per 100,000 residents each year during that period — the second-highest rate of any zip code in the city.
The report’s other key findings included the “sharp increase in opioid overdose mortality rates” among middle-aged Black men, ages 35 to 64, in suburban Cook County.
“This increase mirrors national trends also showing a marked rise beginning in 2016,” the report explained. “Hospital and mortality rates were more than two times lower among Hispanic/Latinx residents compared to Black/African-American and white non-Hispanic residents” in suburban Cook County.
“In addition to the incalculable cost of human lives and the impacts to their families, friends, and communities, there is a high economic burden resulting from opioid use disorders and conditions induced by opioid use,” the report explained.
In a statement released Feb. 18, Holloway-Beth said that fentanyl and heroin “continue to be an incredibly lethal combination in opioid use and no group is immune to these factors in overdose deaths.”
Dr. Kiran Joshi, the senior medical officer and co-lead for CCDPH, said the report “reveals not only surprising trends, but potential blind spots in our systems that can be improved to save lives.”
Joshi added that the department “will use this analysis to inform our activities and customize intervention programs to target the needs of different groups with opioid use disorders. By sharing this data with community leaders and stakeholders, we can leverage our collective expertise and resources to address this crisis.”
You can read the entire report at: cookcountypublichealth.org/behavioral-health/opioids.