Chesterton Tribune



Opioid related deaths continue to rise in county

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The number of opioid-related deaths in Porter County through the first three quarters of 2017 exceeds the number of all such deaths recorded last year, Coroner Chuck Harris is reporting.

According to Harris’ quarterly report, released today, of the 320 deaths investigated by his office through September, 65 were accidental, and of those 38 were drug-related.

Of those 38, 33 were opioid-related, 22 of them involving heroin, with Fentanyl--a powerful synthetic opioid often mixed with heroin--being detected in seven cases.

In all of 2016, Harris said in his report, the Coroner’s Office investigated 20 heroin deaths.

Another “growing concern”: a “resurgence of cocaine” in the county, with seven deaths attributed to its use so far this year. “Although the drug trend was anticipated to increase, it is still very disconcerting considering all the efforts to curb the crisis,” Harris said. “In 2016 there were 20 heroin deaths. In the first nine months of 2017 we have already exceeded that number, resulting in another record-breaking year for heroin-related deaths.”

Harris also noted that, through Dec. 1, the Lake County Coroner’s Office was reporting 33 heroin-related deaths, compared to Porter County’s 22. “It is important to note that Lake County is more than double Porter County’s population.”

“My opinion is that in 2017 Porter County will see approximately a 50-percent increase in heroin overdose deaths from the previous year,” Harris said. “Porter County has also already surpassed last year’s number of Fentanyl deaths, another major trend in the nation.”

“The Coroner’s Office has been proactive in reaching out to schools, community organizations, and inmates, to educate them on the dangers of our current drug culture in Porter County,” Harris noted. “Our ultimate goal in this endeavor is to reverse the current drug trends Porter County is experiencing. However, this will certainly fail unless everyone in the community pitches in to fight this battle. The problem is too large at this point to arrest our way out of it, and will certainly take a community effort to make a difference.”

Other highlights from Harris’ quarterly report: of the 320 deaths investigated by his office through September, there were 223 natural deaths, two homicides, and 28 suicides.

“The Porter County Coroner’s Office recognizes that each case within this report represents the death of a person; whose absence is grieved by beloved family, friends, and our community,” Harris said. “To those individuals, their loved ones, and to all the citizens of Porter County who share the loss, this report is dedicated.”



Posted 12/14/2017





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