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Racine County Officials Raise the Alarm About Rising Drug Abuse Deaths

L to R: Racine County Sheriff Richard Schmaling; Dr. David Galbis Rig, Medical Director of Addiction Services at Accession

April 16, 2021 11:30am

(WGTD)---Racine County officials rang the alarm Wednesday night during a virtual presentation about increasing drug use in Racine County. SC Johnson sponsored “The Opioid Crisis: A Dose of Reality” featuring Racine County Sheriff Richard Schmaling and nearly half a dozen leaders from law enforcement and the medical community.

During an impassioned presentation Dr. David Galbis Rig, Medical Director of Addiction Services at Accession, said he's lost more patients to addiction in the last year than he lost between 2004 and 2019.  Galbis attributed the increase of drug use and deaths in part to isolation and lack of connection to loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drug users are also mixing more fatal combinations. Galbis Rig predicted that drug use could've climbed between 30 and 40 percent last year. 

Schmaling shared that the loss of life is "unbelievable" adding he is "sick and tired of going to funerals."

Racine County Deputy Medical Examiner Tom Czerniak reported that 124 people have died in the last three years due to accidental overdoses in the County. Over 50 people died in 2020 as compared to 2019 when just over 30 people died total. Heroin and fentanyl caused the most deaths.

The use of even more dangerous drugs are on the rise including elephant tranquilizer, a drug 10,000 times more potent than fentanyl.

Officials encouraged anyone who needs help to reach out to area counseling and support groups.

The public can watch a replay of the event here