032415 js 0740June 27, 2016 - Lake County News-Sun | Original article

By Frank S. Abderholden

The Lake County Health Department announced Monday a federal grant will allow it to double the number of individuals the department can treat in its Medication Assisted Treatment program for opioid addiction over the next two years to try and stem a rise in overdose deaths.

The $325,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will allow the county health department to treat 200 individuals and also enable it to make the program clinic a Federally Qualified Health Center, which then allows the county to bill for the services it provides.

"The expansion of our MAT program is an essential next step in the regional effort to address the opioid epidemic, which has had a devastating impact on local families and their communities," said Mark Pfister, the health department's interim executive director, at a media conference in Waukegan announcing the grant. "The expansion of this program is imperative to helping people change addictive behaviors for the long-term."

Tim Sashko, chairman of the Lake County Board of Health, said in 1998 there were 30 deaths attributed to substance abuse, but by 2010 that number had more than tripled to 92. Opioid-related deaths went from 47 in 2008 to 58 in 2015, and heroin-related deaths went from 30 to 42 in the same period.

"We're not moving the needle forward," he said.

U.S. Rep. Robert Dold, R-Ill., who serves as co-chairman of the Suburban Anti-Heroin Task Force, said deaths from opioid abuse has become an enormous problem.

"We lose someone every 19 minutes across the country," Dold said. "In suburban counties around Chicago, it's one every three days, and in Cook County, it's one every day."

"Lake County has a huge problem in terms of opiates and heroin," he added, saying he will continue to push opiate legislation like Lali's Law, which increases access to naloxone throughout the United States. The bill is named in memory of Alex Laliberte, a Buffalo Grove resident and Stevenson High School graduate who died seven years ago from a drug overdose.

Dold said he has also worked to get pharmacies to start a prescription drug takeback program for unused pain medication and offer naloxone, an opioid-overdose counter-agent, over the counter to friends and families.

"We have a lot more barriers to overcome," he said.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said addiction is a mental-health issue, and the epidemic is worse than ever.

"It has to be treated as such," she said, noting she helped get the state to override the governor's veto of the Heroin Crisis Act and a state version of Lali's Law. This fall, the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services will start a prescription monitoring program whose funding will not be affected by the budget impasse.

"We know it's about treatment and not punishment," Bush said.

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Senator Bush speaks from the Senate floor in SpringfieldSPRINGFIELD — To equip police investigators with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills to respond to domestic violence as soon as they answer a call, the General Assembly passed a proposal sponsored by State Sen. Melinda Bush in the Senate that would provide for additional training for law enforcement.

“By requiring more training, we’re sharpening our law enforcement officers’ ability to investigate these crimes. Domestic violence is stereotyped so often, and we need to fight preconceived notions of what an abuse situation looks like,” said Bush, D-Grayslake.

Currently, the law recommends but does not require police departments to coordinate domestic violence response training with service organizations and develop appropriate arrest procedures. The new training under the legislation is aimed at the prevention of further victimization, focusing on looking beyond the physical evidence of domestic violence and giving officers an understanding of the deeper psychological aspects of abusive relationships.

 “Abusers need to know that our officers know what to look for,” Bush said. “When we make our investigators tougher, we make families safer.”

The legislation is House Bill 5538, which passed the Senate Wednesday. Having passed both chambers without opposition, it must be signed by the governor to become law.


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Round Lake Area Public Library Citizenship Forum Flyer 04 02 2016 page 002

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Round Lake Area Public Library Citizenship Forum Flyer 04 02 2016 page 001

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