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Annual Hero Helps Summit shares keys to long term recovery success for opiate use

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker pledges more funding for recovery services

During the ninth annual Hero Helps Summit, held Friday, May 3 at the Edward Hospital Athletic and Event Center, local experts shared important information about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and sober living homes, both key components of long term success in opiate use recovery. Special guest Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker was in attendance and pledged more funding to providers of these services.

“We know this recovery will be a lifelong process and the State of Illinois is committed to help people,” he said. “I want you to know I recognize the critical work you are doing to provide the best care for those who are suffering and their families.”

Dr. Kathleen Burke, director of substance use initiatives in the Office of Will County Executive Larry Walsh, said the biggest challenge for people is access to treatment.

“There just are not enough beds for people who require inpatient care,” Burke said. “We are expanding access to medication-assisted treatment which is helping but there is still a great need for services.”

Pritzker said Illinois will receive $15 million in federal funding which will be used to expand access to treatment.

Walsh said Will County has been committed to this effort since 2010. His office has led the charge in bringing prevention education to local school children and raising awareness. Through the efforts of Burke, officers in all 26 police departments in Will County and the Sheriff’s department have been trained to deliver Narcan, a life-saving antidote that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Burke has also helped the Health Department establish an MAT program for Will County residents.

“Opiate overdose deaths in Will County have decreased slightly and we are hopeful it is due to all of our expanded efforts to address this public health crisis,” said Walsh.

The event included experts from providers of MAT and sober living homes who shared critical information about how to access these services and the success rates of these programs.

“Will County continues to work together to provide the best available services for anyone who is suffering from opiate use,” Burke said. “We will continue to work until overdose deaths are no longer an issue in our county, the state, or the nation.”




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