Milwaukee County on track for record number of drug overdoses this year

NOW: Milwaukee County on track for record number of drug overdoses this year

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)-- Milwaukee County is on track to see a record number of drug overdoses this year. It's the reason why state and local leaders are recommitting their efforts to fight the epidemic.

Aug. 31. is a big day for drug overdose awareness, not only nationally but locally. Leaders are urging families and anyone who may have an addiction to take advantage of city's resources.

"I will never see my son again," Kathleen Stadler said. She lost her 34-year-old son Craig Berres to heroin three months ago.

"This drug took my son's life."

The Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition held an event marking Overdose Awareness Day and offering prevention resources. 

"We can't help someone if they've died, unfortunately, so we try to get to them before them with our MORI program," David Polachowski said.

He's a captain with the Milwaukee Fire Department. 

According to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, this year there have been 302 confirmed drug overdose deaths and 105 cases pending. If the trend continues, the county could see a record high 598 drug overdoses. Polachowski says the pandemic is partially to blame.

"We've seen a high rise in overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, and a lot of that has to do with COVID, people dealing with being stuck home or job loss."

Governor Evers declared Tuesday, Aug. 31 as Overdose Awareness Day in the state. Waukesha County officials are right behind the move, proclaiming the day in Waukesha County.

"The county and our partners are working to help survivors in the stigma around this epidemic and prevent more deaths," Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said.

Stadler wants to continue to encourage families to never give up on their loved one.

"Get them help as fast as you can, the longer time they spend in this, it eats them up more and more." 

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