Public health alert: Kenosha County officials concerned about heroin overdoses

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KENOSHA COUNTY (WITI) -- Kenosha County officials say they are concerned about the recent spike of drug overdoses and drug overdose deaths that have been occurring in Kenosha County.

Authorities believe three people died from heroin overdoses between Friday night, August 1st and Monday morning, August 4th. Toxicology testing will confirm if heroin or other drugs were a contributing factor in these deaths.

Now the Medical Examiner has issued a public health alert.

"There's something going on in the community. We don't know exactly what and we want the community to know what's going on. It'd be the same if there was a flu outbreak or any sort of disease outbreak," said Kenosha County M.E. Patrice Hall.

So far in 2014, there have been 15 confirmed deaths due to drug overdoses.  There are several more deaths that are awaiting toxicology results before being determined to be a drug overdose death.  At this time last year in 2013, there were 19 confirmed deaths due to toxicity (drug overdose).

"It's a relatively new problem, and it's not just Kenosha. It's nationwide, and the big thing that's going on is people who start out being addicted to prescription pain killers switch over to heroin," said Byron Wright of Kenosha Human Development Services.

The agency provides crisis counseling and mental health and substance abuse programs. Staff at the center and medical examiner's office say the transition from painkillers to heroin is rather common. There are now six drop off boxes throughout the county where people can safely get rid of unwanted prescription drugs.

"I don't think we can stress this enough, that recovery is possible and we need to believe that as an agency and we need to believe that as a community," said Kari Foss with Kenosha Human Development Services.

If you witness a drug overdose, please call 911 to get the person immediate medical attention. The Wisconsin legislature passed a law earlier this year giving some criminal immunity to anyone who reports an overdose.

Please call KDOG (Kenosha Drug Operations Group) -262-605-7930 if you have any leads or tips to provide to the police.

Other resources available in Kenosha County are:

  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Center, 5407 – 8th Avenue, Kenosha. Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – 262-657-7188.

7 comments

  • jake

    this has nothing to do with undocumented immigrants. The drug cartels will find a way to smuggle it in, its a billion dollar operation. What does a person coming here to make a living for themselve have to do with people buying drugs on the street.

    • The right thing

      Oh you mean the ILLEGALS that sneek in..mooch off our welfare system, reproduce more children then they can actually afford..take jobs from Americans and please don’t give me that “they do jobs that americans wont do stuff”…They do jobs americans refuse to to for 7 bucks an hour. they also bring in more gangs, new diseases ( like that new strain of chicken poxs ) oh please Jake!

  • Carrie Rudd

    It is very discomforting to read that 2 out of 4 of these resources Kenosha utilizes are proven ineffective in treatment measures. DARE has been proven ineffective throughout the country and supply reduction is also proven ineffective throughout the country. As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. I believe demand reduction should be our primary focus during this tragic epidemic.Three day detox is not enough. The only two other resources mentioned involve incarceration. The message that sends is once you get caught and arrested, we will consider finding you treatment. I suppose KDOG is going to save lives with their $238,000 tank like vessel that reads “PURCHASED WITH NON-TAXPAYER DRUG FORFEITURE FUNDS.” Maybe that money should go to helping addicts get treatment when they sweep the dealer. I have never seen a drug bust that required a tank even if supply reduction were effective. Without change to our treatment approach, our epidemic is going to continue. Let’s focus on helping people find a better way to live through recovery and support, not through threats and punishment. Make peace not war.

  • Nicolas Bauer

    Heroin / opiate addiction in America is reaching epidemic proportions. Withdrawal is a truly horrifying experience (as a former addict, I know firsthand) – and prevents most people from ever receiving the help they need. Success rates for opiate maintenance “treatment” are dismal and do little more than replace one addiction for another. If you know someone who’s caught in this nightmare – learn about Ibogaine treatment – this drug saves lives!

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