Nationwide overdose deaths break records, local rehabilitation centers feel the impact

Local facilities say they have seen an increase in patients over the year, but too many are still scared to ask for help.
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Overdose deaths in the United States were up by 30 percent from March of 2020 to March of 2021. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 96,000 lives lost. Addiction specialists said isolation and anxiety play a key role.

“It’s affecting so many people. Even people that perhaps never thought about using substances, are abusing prescription drugs,” said Remedies Renewing Lives Vice President Cheryl Piper. “They’re abusing other drugs as well that are on the market out there.”

Remedies Renewing Lives rehabilitation center in Rockford has seen a large increase in patients this year, but Piper said too many people are embarrassed to ask for help.

“This is not about being a bad person, this is about being an ill person,” she said.

Jim Noe of Rosecrance Health Network in Rockford said the facility treated around 1,300 people with Opioid Use Disorder, and another 4,000 for depression over the last year.

Noe said a major factor in the increased death rate is synthetic opioids, which he said are far more deadly.

“The risk of overdose is often unexpected. Most people aren’t attempting to kill themselves,” said Noe. “They just aren’t aware of what’s in it, and what they’re putting in their body, and it’s leading to, often times, unexpected death.”

Tammy Wardemann with Hope Over Addiction said when many support groups went virtual, many people suffering did not log back on.

“People who suffer from substance abuse disorder, they need medically assisted treatment, but they also need support,” said Wardemann.

She said to get more people to feel comfortable asking for help, we need to remove the stigma by educating the public on the disease.

“If people understand that no one wants to live the way they lived, they suffered,” said Wardemann. “No one would want to live like that.”

If you know anyone struggling with substance abuse, you can call the addiction and treatment number: 815-962-0871, or visit their website

To find more information on Hope Over Addiction, you can read more on their website:

For more information on Rosecrance Health Network resources go to or call 888-928-5278.

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