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Fox Valley seeing scary increase in overdose deaths

Life expectancy drops in Wisconsin due to alcohol, drugs. (WLUK image){ }
Life expectancy drops in Wisconsin due to alcohol, drugs. (WLUK image)
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WLUK) -- A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drug overdose deaths in the US top 100,000 annually.

Areas in Northeast Wisconsin are also facing a deadly drug trend.

"I do know that both Winnebago and Outagamie County have had a huge surge, probably all over Wisconsin," said Jolie VerVoort with the Winnebago and Outagamie County overdose fatality review committee.

She also works with those addicted to drugs as president of residential treatment services at Apricity.

She says in October alone, Outagamie County had 23 overdose deaths. From mid-November to mid-December, Winnebago County had 14 deaths.

"Winnebago let me know that last year's was 37, and they will definitely be passing that number by this year for sure," said VerVoort. "So definitely numbers are on the rise and way more than we've seen in the past couple of years."

FOX 11 asked, "do you know why that is?"

"The pandemic has a lot to do with it, said VerVoort, "A lot of these overdosed people are doing it alone in a bedroom in their house, in their basement and there is nobody there to help them."

VerVoort says the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl is also to blame.

"Fentanyl is in every drug, to include marijuana, to include meth, to include any substance that you use," said VerVoort.

Dan Haak, president of contract packaging and recovery support at Apricity, says although the numbers are staggering, it’s important to get past the stigma of seeking help.

A program offered by Apricity makes it easy to work and live in a drug-free environment.

"If they don't want to do it, it's likely that it won't be successful, so I think just continuing to be supportive and to be there for people when they're ready to make a change," said Haak.

Haak says more people are wanting to seek help.

A new partnership with ThedaCare and Wisconsin Voices for Recovery helped 170 people this year who came into emergency rooms.

"We have 24/7 on call recovery coaches who report to the emergency departments after an overdose and offer to be there for those people and answer questions and have had lived experiences. We can help connect them with resources," said Haak.

Vervort says just because the holidays are coming up doesn’t mean care has to wait.

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She says anytime is the best time to seek recovery resources.

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