A new report released in February by the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) shows that, from 2016 to 2020, Brookfield had among the highest mortality rates from opioid overdoses in suburban Cook County.

The report ­­– by Alfreda Holloway-Beth and Nhan Nguyen of the Cook County  Department of Public Health’s Epidemiology Unit, and Lee Friedman with the University of Illinois Chicago’s School of Public Health — gathered results from the Illinois Poison Center, outpatient and emergency department data from area hospitals and the Cook County Medical Examiner.

From January 2016 to June 2020, the report found, 1,576 people in the municipalities that fall under the Cook County health department’s jurisdiction died from opioid overdoses, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner. Among those overdose deaths, roughly 83 percent involved heroin and/or fentanyl.

The study also lists a Cook County Medical Examiner analysis of 22 suburban ZIP codes where the mortality rate from opioid overdoses was highest. Brookfield’s ZIP code of 60513 ranked eighth, with a mortality rate of 28 deaths per 100,000 residents.

The analysis of that ZIP code, according to the study, also included sections of North Riverside, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Lyons, McCook and Riverside. That mortality rate was roughly double the rate of 13.9 per 100,000 for the rest of suburban Cook County, according to the study.

The highest mortality rates in the suburbs, the study concluded, were in the west, southwest and south suburbs – including towns adjacent to areas in the city of Chicago where mortality rates are also among the highest.

“The highest mortality rates were observed in ZIP codes that include the municipalities of Worth, Broadview, Maywood and Forest Park,” according to the study. “These ZIP codes, and others hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, have substantially lower median household incomes and higher poverty rates.”

The analysis of the 60130 zip, which is Forest Park, indicated a mortality rate of 37.6 people per 100,000 residents, which was more than double the state average of 17 per 100,000.

That ZIP code, which ranked fourth highest among Cook County suburbs in mortality rate from opioid overdoses, also included sections of Berwyn, North Riverside, Maywood, Oak Park and River Forest in its analysis.

The report’s other key findings included the “sharp increase in opioid overdose mortality rates” among middle-aged Black men, ages 35 to 64, in suburban Cook County.

“This increase mirrors national trends also showing a marked rise beginning in 2016,” the report stated. “Hospital and mortality rates were more than two times lower among Hispanic/Latinx residents compared to Black/African-American and white non-Hispanic residents” in suburban Cook County.

 In addition to the emotional and personal cost, the opioid epidemic also came at an enormous financial cost, the report explained.

“From 2016 to 2019, the cumulative hospital charges to treat suburban Cook County residents for any opioid related issues (including medical conditions induced by opioid use, withdrawal and treatment) was almost $800 million,” the report added. “Of which, treatment of acute opioid intoxication-overdose cases alone exceeded $500 million in hospital charges.”

In a statement released Feb. 18, Holloway-Beth said that fentanyl and heroin “continue to be an incredibly lethal combination in opioid use and no group is immune to these factors in overdose deaths.”

Dr. Kiran Joshi, the senior medical officer and co-lead for CCDPH, said the report “reveals not only surprising trends, but potential blind spots in our systems that can be improved to save lives.”

Joshi added that the department “will use this analysis to inform our activities and customize intervention programs to target the needs of different groups with opioid use disorders. By sharing this data with community leaders and stakeholders, we can leverage our collective expertise and resources to address this crisis.”

You can read the entire report at cookcountypublichealth.org/behavioral-health/opioids.