Chesterton Tribune



Coroner Harris: Drug-related deaths down in first half of 2018

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Drug-related deaths in Porter County were down in the first half of 2018.

That’s the headline from Coroner Chuck Harris’ report on the period Jan. 1-June 30.

During that period, the Porter County Health Department’s Vital Records Division recorded 846 deaths, of which 233 were investigated by the Coroner’s Office.

Of those 233, 185 were natural and 32 accidental, with 13 suicides, no homicides, and three still pending.

Of the 32 accidental deaths, 19 were drug-related, compared to 28 for the first half of 2017, a decrease of 32 percent.

Of the 19 drug-related deaths, 13 involved opiates and five of those involved heroin, while Fentanyl--a synthetic opioid which is typically more than 50 percent stronger than heroin--was detected in seven of the cases.

Of the 233 cases investigated by the Coroner’s Office, 37 autopsies were conducted with 62 toxicology studies.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we are headed in the right direction,” Harris said. “Porter County is experiencing the first decrease in drug overdoses in several years. We are just now getting things going in the right direction and we still have a long way to go to overcome this crisis. Despite the slight decrease in overall drug overdose deaths, it is still too early to confirm any trends. Obviously, we want to see a trend over a number of years before we can say with any certainty if we are seeing a slowdown.”

“I believe that we can credit many of the efforts being put forth in our community,” Harris added. “Law enforcement has made significant saves with its implementation of Narcan in their responses to overdose scenes. Treatment is becoming slightly easier to access with new facilities opening. I also believe that our out-reach prevention efforts may have finally started to make a difference. State implementation of prescription drug monitoring programs have also helped reduce the availability of certain drugs to addicts. As I have always said, this epidemic will only be won on a multi-faceted approach. It is important to realize that this is only one step in a long and hard fought journey but, it is a sign for cautious optimism.”

Of his quarterly reports, Harris said. “The purpose of this report is to give a snapshot of the trends of deaths and general insight. 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. To those individuals, their loved ones, and to all the citizens of Porter County who share the loss, this report is dedicated.”


Posted 8/14/2018




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