JOLIET, Ill. - Will County in northern Illinois has seen

the highest number of fatal opioid overdoses in its history.


The county coroner's office reports 85 people died from heroin or fentanyl overdoses in 2017. That’s 7 more people than died from opioid in 2016 and 32 more deaths than in 2015.


A woman from Rockford, Illinois, is accused of causing the death of a man in South Dakota by selling him heroin.

Investigators say a 14-year-old boy found dead last year in his suburban Chicago home died from an overdose of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

The Chicago Police Department is planning to expand a pilot program that gives detainees arrested for drugs the option of treatment or jail time.

Two medical universities are teaming up to study how the opioid epidemic is affecting southern Illinois.

A suburban Chicago woman accused of using a pizzeria as a front for drug-trafficking has been convicted of multiple drug charges.  43-year-old Maria Garza of Arlington Heights was found guilty of manufacturing and delivering cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Flickr Creative Commons/twak

Law enforcement agencies and health centers in central Illinois are scrambling to address the opioid epidemic.  DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner says heroin is the area's top public safety threat. Shofner's office is among six agencies that make up the Illinois State Police Task Force 6 narcotics unit. 

eric molina / Wikimedia Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A central Illinois county coroner has found a tranquilizer used on elephants and other large animals in the blood of two recent drug-overdose victims. 

Heroin Deaths on the Rise in Northern Illinois

Jan 2, 2017
Carl-Johan Sveningsson / Flickr

The coroner in Will County in northern Illinois says heroin overdose deaths in his jurisdiction were up more than 40 percent in 2016 over 2015. Coroner Patrick O'Neil tells The Naperville Sun that as of Friday Will County had 75 heroin or fentanyl deaths.

Fentanyl is more lethal heroin substitute. That number is 42 percent higher than the previous record of 53 reported during 2012 and 2015.

Thomas Marthinsen / Flickr/Creative Commons

Heroin was -- and continues to be -- a major topic of concern in 2016, both nationally and in Peoria. 


In July, Mayor Jim Ardis announced the creation of his Community Coalition Against Heroin to look at causes and possible solutions for the increasing cases of overdose and addiction.

Several members of the coalition, including County Sheriff Mike McCoy, are expected to join a televised town hall discussion tonight on WTVP.

Illinois and federal health officials are seeking penalties totaling over $100,000 from a Chicago nursing home after five residents overdosed on heroin inside the facility in February.  The residents of Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center were hospitalized and recovered. 

The coroner in Will County says he's found evidence of the presence of a toxic substance in fatal heroin overdoses that's more potent than fentanyl.  Will County Coroner Patrick K. O'Neil says he found traces of W-18 in the system of a 32-year-old Lockport man who died of a heroin overdose in April. 

Chicago police say they have arrested more than two-dozen people in connection with sales of heroin laced with the painkiller fentanyl, which is being blamed for a sharp increase in overdose deaths.  Police say a series of raids took place throughout the day Thursday led to 25 arrests by late that night. 

B.A.D. / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Community Summit of the Mayor’s Coalition Against Heroin drew about 85 participants.

The agenda included comments from Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis and the coalition, police, a doctor, a recovering heroin addict, a family member and representatives of the Human Service Center.

Peoria Police Captain Loren Marion III says debunking the myths around heroin and opioid addiction is essential in furthering the effort to squash the epidemic:   

Durbin Leads Discussion On Combatting Opioid Epidemic

Aug 12, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The sweeping prevalence of opioid addiction is outpacing the amount of treatment options and funding available. That was the theme of a panel discussion led by US Sen. Dick Durbin at Heartland Community Clinic Fri.

Durbin was joined by local health professionals, advocates and emergency responders in a conversation aiming to push funding for legislation to address the issue.

The Mayor’s Community Coalition Against Heroin in Peoria hosted the first of two public forums Tuesday night. The civic and law enforcement team that initiated Peoria’ Don’t Shoot Program is expanding its focus to what is being called a national heroin epidemic.

A new law makes a drug that counteracts opioid overdose easier to get. But is that enough?

Northlake resident Steve Kamenicky is lucky to be alive.

He’s 58 years old and says he’s used heroin for 46 years, starting at age 12. He has overdosed several times and nearly died, but he survived because of the medication naloxone hydrochloride, also known by the brand name Narcan

torbakhopper / Flickr

The number of overdose-related deaths in Illinois could be higher were it not for drugs that can save a person from opioid abuse. But that is just the beginning of a long road to recovery. Illinois Public Radio's Jenna Dooley looks at some of the resources to help those who are battling addiction.


Chicago police say they have arrested nearly 100 alleged street gang members and 40 others on weapons and drug trafficking charges in an effort to combat the city's gun violence.  Officials announced the arrests, saying they took place over the past two days with the assistance with federal law enforcement agencies.

PunchingJudy / Flickr/Creative Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Trained pharmacists in Illinois soon will be able to dispense the overdose reversal drug naloxone without a prescription. Regulators announced Monday that a short web-based training program is available to pharmacists who want to help reduce deaths from heroin and painkillers.

The change results from a state law passed last year. The legislation allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone kits to people at risk of overdose, their family members and friends, first responders and school nurses.

Peoria County

The Peoria County Jail is honing in on treatment of mental health and drug addiction in 2016.

In 2015, the jail changed its medical contract to a new provider that works with the Human Service Center of Peoria.

Jail Superintendent Brian Asbell says the new agreement with local ties has helped keep inmates on a treatment track, post-release. Asbell says it’s like a patient leaving the doctor’s office and arranging the next appointment on the way out.

New Group Aims To Tackle Regional Heroin Use

Dec 7, 2015

Regional law enforcement, community and medical groups are joining forces to tackle the area’s heroin problem.  The Mayor’s Community Coalition Against Heroin will form a multi-agency law enforcement task force to arrest dealers, and include a new team to investigate overdose deaths.  Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy says the program will mirror techniques used in the anti-violence ‘Don’t Shoot’ program:

Alex Rusciano / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria Police Department is seeing double the number of heroin overdose deaths this year compared to 2014. So far 10 people have died from the drug. 

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) - Authorities in suburban Chicago are concerned an increase in heroin related deaths may involve tainted batches of the drug making their way out of Cook County.

(Part 3 of 3)

In November 2013 Kari Karidis was in her office at Collinsville High School when a local hospital called to tell her that her son Chaz was in cardiac arrest. When she arrived at the emergency room she was told her son had died. All she could do was go into his room and say goodbye.

“He still had the tube — the breathing tube in,” Karidis recalled, sitting in that same office earlier this year. “I just sat there. I don’t know how long. I just remember thinking I can’t look at this but I can’t leave.”

(Part 2 of 3)

Earlier this month, a new anti-heroin law went into effect in Illinois. The measure requires first responders to carry the opiate overdose antidote naloxone and expands the amount of addiction treatment paid for by Medicaid. But how the drugs and treatment will be paid for is unclear. State funding for addiction treatment is also in limbo as Illinois enters its 13th week without a budget.

Meanwhile, there have been a number of legislative attempts in recent years aimed at fighting the heroin epidemic in Missouri. But the only bill to become law is a measure allowing law enforcement to carry the overdose antidote. And so far very few police departments have taken advantage of the law.

Camille Phillips / St. Louis Public Radio

(Part 1 of 3) - On an April morning in 2014, Kelley McDonald woke up in her suburban St. Charles home and went downstairs to remind her son Sean to take his bipolar medication.

“I go over to the couch and I kind of shake him and I’m like come on buddy you’ve got to take your medicine. And that’s when I looked at him and he was kind of blue and I started screaming,” said Kelley McDonald, her voice shaking as she sits next to her husband Michael at a restaurant gazebo one year later.


Chicago authorities are investing what's behind a spike in heroin overdoses on the city's West Side. Fire Department Commander Frank Velez said late Thursday that at least 18 people overdosed within twenty hours beginning Wednesday evening. Local hospitals and paramedics noticed the increase. A Chicago Department of Public Health memo says it may have been heroin laced with fentanyl purchased at two locations.

The sponsor of legislation intended to curb heroin abuse says he'll try to override Governor Bruce Rauner's partial veto.