Will County received a five year grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS is the recipient of a federal grant from SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to reduce the number of prescription drug/opioid overdose-related deaths.
“Will County has been very proactive in addressing the issue of heroin use and resulting deaths in our county since 2011,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “We are educating our school children, parents, and the community about the dangers of opioid use while at the same time training our law enforcement officers how to administer Narcan, an opioid antidote. This new grant will allow us to expand our efforts to create a comprehensive approach to stop our young adults from dying.”
With the support of the Will County Board, Dr. Kathleen Burke will be hired as full time project director for this initiative. Her scope of work will include both grant related activities, as well as range of other outreach efforts that will serve as a clearinghouse for a range of opioid related preventive efforts and harm reduction strategies.
“We have been working with Dr. Burke for a couple of years on heroin prevention efforts,” Walsh added. “She is an expert in the field of addiction and will be extremely effective as director of this grant. She has done great work in educating our police officers about the use of Narcan and has extensive experience in creating prevention curriculums.”
Burke’s duties will include expanding the availability of Narcan, a powerful antidote that can reverse a heroin overdose; continuing educational efforts across the county and within the school system, while establishing long term sustainability of the project.
“Opioid addiction is a crisis in the United States,” Burke said. “Will County has been a leader in heroin prevention efforts and now with this new funding, I will be proud to help continue and build upon these programs to prevent opiate addiction. These new programs will save lives. ”