Every 12.5 minutes, someone dies from an opioid overdose in the United States.
It’s the kind of statistic that caused U.S. Rep. Randy Hultrgren to host an Opioid Conference at Waubonsee Community College Wednesday, with special guest U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.
Just prior to the conference, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirvan Shah with Hultgren and Adams stopped at the Kane County Health Department offices in Aurora for a roundtable meeting to speak about the opioid epidemic and the countywide efforts at preventing the spread of the opioid epidemic in our county.
Kane County Health Department Executive Director Barbara Jeffers, hosted the roundtable event and provided a tour of the department’s offices to the visitors.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen addressed the room full of health department employees, and community partners including local police and sheriff agencies, firefighters, paramedics, social service agencies, hospitals and other partners, all of whom are “on the front lines” battling the tragedy of the opioid epidemic.
The Health Department’s Narcan team has been stepping up efforts to increase the reach to even more people.
At first, the team was focused on training for police and fire departments. Now, team members are reaching out to a wider range of agencies, such as social service agencies, colleges, schools and libraries.
Jeffers said this is just the beginning and plans are to mobilize the community to address this epidemic together as a community.
“You’re on the right track,” Adams said.
Adams then told a personal story of how his own brother is serving prison time because of his addiction to opioids. He noted that the 10-year sentence levied against his brother will end up costing taxpayers $500,000 to $1 million, and still not provide his brother with any counseling — in effect, sending him back out on the street never having received any help.
He noted that there has been some success in reducing the number of opioid prescriptions – not enough, but some – and data show that heroin use is stable. The bad news is that the drugs now available are much stronger, including those laced with fentanyl, which can be 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.
During his talk, Adams noted that there has been $3 billion in federal money earmarked to fight the opioid crisis in America. He said, sadly, that there can never be enough money in the federal budget to stop the epidemic.
Instead, the effort and burden in bringing the crisis to a close will also require the diligence of people like the ones in attendance Wednesday, all partners working together toward a common goal.
- Narcan Program Ready to Start Saving Lives (August 2014)
- Deputies Use Narcan to Save Woman From Heroin Overdose (July 2015)
- 7 Lives Saved So Far From Health Department’s Narcan Program (July 2015)
- Health Department to Receive 692 Cartons of Anti-Overdose Auto Injectors (August 2015)
- Health Department: 26 Lives Saved, 1,000 Officers Trained in Use of Narcan (May 2016)
- $60,000 From Drug-Asset Forfeiture Funds Help Kane in War Against Heroin (January 2017)
- County Board Looks at Joining Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers (August 2017)
- Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug More Readily Available (October 2017)