Suspected overdose deaths still on the rise in McHenry County

Free overdose-reversing naloxone nasal spray is available throughout county

Narcan inside a vending machine on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, at the Other Side Cafe & Sober Bar in Crystal Lake. The vending machine is one of several free Narcan vending machines installed around the county by the McHenry County Mental Health Board.

Suspected overdose deaths in McHenry County are about twice as high so far this year than the median number from 2020 to 2023 over the same time frame, the McHenry County Department of Health reported Tuesday.

There also has been an increase in emergency medical services encounters where naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, was used to treat an opioid overdose, according to a news release.

Nine suspected overdoses have occurred so far this year, including 14-year-old Trent Ullrich, McHenry County Coroner Michael Rein said.

The deaths currently are not confirmed as opioid-related, but “the majority of McHenry County’s overdose fatalities involve opioids, often with fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, as reported by the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition,” McHenry County Department of Health Community Information Coordinator Nick Kubiak said in the release.

Fentanyl, a highly lethal substance, is discovered in counterfeit pills that are sold as “legitimate prescription medications,” but obtained unlawfully, Kubiak said in the release.

Narcan nasal spray can help reverse an opioid overdose. Narcan nasal sprays and fentanyl test strips are available for free at the following locations in McHenry County: McHenry County Department of Health locations in Crystal Lake and Woodstock, local deliveries provided by Live4Lali, Warp Corps in Woodstock and The Break Crystal Lake Teen Center. Free Narcan vending machines are available at The Other Side Cafe and Sober Bar in Crystal Lake, McHenry County College’s cafeteria, Community Health Partnership in Harvard and the Youth and Family Center of McHenry County in McHenry.

The McHenry County Department of Health has online learning resources including how to use Narcan, how to identify an opioid emergency and how to use fentanyl test strips.

A Way Out – McHenry County offers substance use assessment on a daily basis from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. to anyone in McHenry County that wishes to seek recovery. If you are unable to pay for treatment because of lack of insurance or financial resources, you will not be turned away. A Way Out works with providers that accept several different insurance plans and accommodate those without insurance, according to the McHenry County Department of Health.