Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti recently visited the Rosecrance Harrison campus in Rockford for a news conference to address the first year of Illinois opioid action plan and highlight the successful opioid efforts of Rosecrance and the Illinois County Jails.
The Illinois Opioid Action Plan went into effect last year and its goal is to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths by one third by 2020.
At the news conference, Lt. Governor Sanguinetti, government officials and Rosecrance experts outlined the multifaceted efforts of the plan, including Narcan trainings, the Monitoring Act to prevent “doctor shopping,” and the partnership program between Rosecrance and County Jails.
Illinois Department of Human Services Official Maria Bruni explained the importance of the latter tactic: “We can’t arrest or incarcerate our way out of this opioid epidemic. It’s only through prevention and treatment that we will be able to conquer this.”
A Rosecrance client demonstrated the truth of that statement. After more than 20 years of abusing opioids, ending up in jail and nearly losing everything, Krysten was offered a chance to begin Medication Assisted Treatment while incarcerated. It changed her entire life. Krysten now has over one year sobriety and is set to start school next month to become a substance abuse counselor.
“I feel like everything I’ve tried to do to stay clean is finally working,” says Krysten. “I feel like I’m succeeding at something for the first time in my life.”
Rosecrance is currently providing services in three County Jails including Winnebago, Boone and McHenry counties. Rosecrance has helped 150 individuals in county jails by providing access to treatment services, and 90% of those individuals have continued with community based services upon release.
“If an individual returns back to their home life [after jail], they experience the same peer pressures they had and some of the same obstacles and struggles that led to their substance abuse,” said Craig Stallings, Rosecrance Administrator of Adult Substance Abuse Services. “We know access to care is critical. Treatment is effective. Individuals can recover and return to productive lives.”
Overdose is now the number one cause of death for individuals under 50 years old and opioid overdoses have taken the lives of more than 2,000 Illinoisans in the last year alone.
Still, Lt. Governor Sanguinetti describes the Opioid Action Plan’s progress as hopeful: “I’m here today to say ‘Help is here’, not ‘Help is on the way.”