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Fighting opioid epidemic on many fronts

Daily Herald

Thursday, October 12, 2017  |  Editorial  |  Editorial Board

If anyone doubts the extent of the opioid epidemic, pay attention to these stories on the federal, state and local level just in the last couple days.


On Tuesday, first lady Melania Trump highlighted the issue by visiting a drug recovery center for infants in West Virginia, the state, according to The Associated Press, with the highest rate of babies born dependent on drugs. The center, Lily's Place, is the first of its kind in the nation.


"I want to be here to support you and give a voice to Lily's Place and also for the opioid epidemic," the first lady said. "We need to open the conversation to children and young mothers how it's dangerous to use drugs and get addicted."


On Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner's Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force began a state tour in search of information and partners to help implement the state's Opioid Action Plan to curtail the growing opioid overdose epidemic in Illinois.


The Task Force met in Chicago Wednesday and will be in Champaign and Mount Vernon in downstate Illinois this week.


"The opioid epidemic knows no neighborhood, no color, and no class. It is not confined to alleys in urban settings, nor isolated in rural communities," said Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton, the task force chair. "We are traveling the state to collect research and hear stories of those impacted by this growing opioid overdose epidemic so we can take action to save lives."


Locally, the suburban region has led the way in recent years in addressing the crisis, highlighting the increasing number of deaths due to heroin and other opioids and working to raise awareness. Wednesday, Kane County took another step in the fight by moving forward with a lawsuit against opiate drug manufacturers.


Meanwhile, DuPage County learned recently that the Office of National Drug Control Policy has added the county to the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, meaning DuPage is eligible to receive additional resources, including intelligence and specialized equipment.

"What we're trying to do is get to the source of the drugs coming into the county," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. "It's easy to arrest the small-time drug dealers. We're trying to go after the big drug trafficking organizations. It's going to have a huge impact on public safety."


This is a nationwide battle on many fronts. It's telling that officials at all levels of government see the need for coordinated efforts and gratifying to see that happening, especially close to home, in a variety of ways.