ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker launched a new plan to combat the opioid crisis in the state on Monday.
The hope is that focusing on harm reduction and social equity will give all Illinoisans access to support they need. One expert at a stateline treatment center said that they have seen a large increase in people seeking treatment for opioid addiction, and that overdoses are happening at an alarming rate.
“There are so many people who end up in a struggle with the disease that is addiction,” Pritzker said.
The opioid crisis is an issue that Pritzker is trying to combat, but Kathy Branning of Remedies Renewing Lives said that it is only getting worse.
“Right now in Illinois, opioid overdoses have increased literally 33% from 2019 to the end of 2020,” Branning said.
The epidemic is a nationwide problem, according to Branning.
“The CDC reports that drug overdoses in the nation have increased well over 100,000 in the year 2021,” she said.
Branning said that one of the biggest causes is fentanyl, with many opioids often being laced with the deadly substance.
“It only takes just a small (amount), you could barely see it with the human eye,” Branning said. “Just a couple of grains of fentanyl can literally cause an overdose, a fatal overdose.”
She said that heroin, MDMA and cocaine are commonly laced.
“Sometimes the person taking it doesn’t even know that fentanyl is in the drug,” Branning said.
Addiction impacts everyone, according to Branning.
“One person addicted impacts the whole community,” Branning said. “Not only the person with this self destructive behavior but their friends, their family, the people they work with.”
She added that help is always available.
“The bad news is that we’re seeing higher numbers, but the good news is that we’re able to help people and treat people and see people turn their lives around,” Branning said.
More information can be found on Remedies Renewing Lives’ website.