Study of suburban opioid deaths points to heroin as the chief killer

  • These heroin packets were seized by Elgin police in 2013.

    These heroin packets were seized by Elgin police in 2013. Chicago Sun-Times file photo

Updated 2/19/2021 6:31 PM

A report on opioid-related overdose deaths in suburban Cook County released Friday found that heroin is the chief killer, and the highest death rates were in several West and Southwest communities.

Of the approximately 1,600 overdose deaths recorded from 2016 through June 15, 2020, 83% tested positive for heroin or fentanyl, according to the report.


Heroin, which is often laced with potent fentanyl, claimed the most lives despite the fact that only a small number of opioid abusers use heroin -- about 8%.

The report, titled "Opioid Epidemic in Suburban Cook County," was a joint effort by the Cook County Department of Public Health and researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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