Opioid addiction is a battle going on across the country and here in the Stateline.
The Governor recently created a new task force to combat the problem. His second in command toured an addiction treatment center in Rockford on Wednesday, to talk about how it’ll work. Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti said the opioid crisis can’t be solved with handcuffs.
“Rockford has been hit hard, really hard,” said Lt. Governor Sanguinetti.
Opioid addiction claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 Illinois residents in the past year, many Rockford residents among them.
In February, a man was found dead in a carpet cleaning truck, at a Rockford Walmart parking lot.
“The opioid epidemic, it knows no neighborhood, no color, no class,” said Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti.
The Lieutenant Governor visited Rosecrance in Rockford to discuss a new executive order that was signed, creating an opioid task force.
“We are working in partnerships with the courts and police and more on a community related effort,” said Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti.
“In other words, you can’t arrest your way out of this epidemic. That’s impossible,” she says.
President of Rosecrance, David Gormel agrees.
“We need to make sure our funders, that our community, that our legislators all understand that when people need treatment, they need treatment,” said Gomel. “When people need access to care, they need access to care.”
Rosecrance graduates were able to meet with the Lieutenant Governor ,and spoke about their experiences as recovering addicts.
“This opiate addiction, for me, is very painful for me,” said recovering addict, Joanne. “Because, I have a family member that is struggling.”
Joanne returned to drinking and drug use after learning of her son’s addiction.
“Something happened to me one night,” said Joanne. “It said, how can you be mad at your son, when you’re no better. So I called for help.”
Another former patient, Nick, began using opiates and was admitted to Rosecrance at the age of 15. The Rosecrance graduate says this new executive order will help those who seek it.
“People need to know that are still out there sick and suffering that it is an obsession,” said Nick. “Without the help, there’s very little hope for someone’s recovery.”
The state already has $16 million federal dollars ready for use on intervention and treatment. Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti hopes to secure another $40 million for the task force.