Congressman Kinzinger hosts roundtable discussion to address opioid epidemic
As the opioid crisis continues to affect communities across the nation, U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger hosted a roundtable discussion with local and county officials to learn about local efforts and potential solutions on this issue.
"We are losing an entire generation to substance abuse disorder, and it requires all of us in the community to work together and fight back against this drug crisis,” Kinzinger said. “Raising awareness and having these solution-driven discussions are hugely important to combating the opioid epidemic. I'm grateful to our local leaders for their attention to this issue, and to our first responders here in the 16th Congressional District and across the country for working hard to save lives."
Kinzinger invited States Attorney Jim Glasgow and Dr. Kathleen Burke, Director of Substance Use Initiatives in the Office of Will County Executive Larry Walsh, to share what the county is doing to address the legal and harm reduction issues around this crisis.
“We have been fighting the opioid epidemic on multiple fronts,” Glasgow said. “We have dedicated tremendous resources through our Problem Solving Courts to help people break their addiction to this deadly narcotic. We have helped return hundreds of people who struggled with opioids to their families and communities. We also work closely with local narcotics officers to put dealers in prison and cut off supply. In addition, I have funded the purchase of drug detection canines for a half dozen local police agencies to assist in this battle.”
“The collaborative efforts with Braidwood’s mayor, the police, the DEA, and the States Attorney is reducing the supply of opioids on the Southeast side of the county,” said Burke. “The demand side of this epidemic is being addressed by my office and the Braidwood and Wilmington coalitions to provide education, safe prescription drug disposal, naloxone training,
teatment and post treatment care which is significantly reducing the number of overdose deaths.
Braidwood led the way in creating their C.H.A.N.G.E police deflection program which facilitates access to treatment. But we need more resources for treatment for uninsured and Medicaid patients. Too many people are dying from drug overdose.”
District 6 County Board members Don Gould and Debbie Militello, 12th Circuit Court Associate Judges Ben Braun and Victoria Kennison as well as Braidwood Mayor James Vehrs, and Braidwood Chief of Police Nick Ficarello were also in attendance. Each shared their work in this crisis.
"Will County has been at the forefront and a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic," said Will County Board Member Don Gould (R-Shorewood). "The roundtable meeting demonstrated that all levels county government - County Board, State's Attorney, County Executive, health department, and courts - are actively engaged and advocating for solutions."
"The opioid epidemic has touched people across Will County without discrimination," said Will County Board Member Debbie Militello (R-Channahon). "That's why it's so important for all levels and branches of government to pull together for a solution."
“Braidwood has been especially hard hit,” said Vehrs. “We went from having the highest per capita overdose deaths to none last year. Unfortunately, this year we have had one overdose deaths. That shows our work is not over.”
From left to right: Will County Director of Substance Use Initiatives Dr. Kathleen Burke, U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Braidwood Mayor James Vehrs, County Board District 6 Board Members Debbie Militello and Don Gould, and States Attorney James Glasgow.