As state’s attorneys working to counter the devastating effects of opioids in our communities, we appreciated the recent visit of U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams to Sugar Grove. We agree with him that the availability of naloxone — the antidote to an opioid overdose — is a key tool to save lives.
In addition, as law enforcement officials, we are committed to aggressively pursuing drug dealers and cartels, promoting drug drop-off programs where people can safely get rid of their old prescriptions, and taking action in court against pharmaceutical companies that have lied about the exceptionally addictive nature of their opioid products.
We also believe that it is time to open up a new front in this fight to save lives. There are two sides of this problem: supply and demand. The above measures focus on opioid supply — but we need to be equally aggressive in reducing demand.
That effort has to start in early childhood. A new report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids — an organization of which we are all members — has released a report showing that home visiting programs for new and expecting parents can reduce traumatic experiences for children. That, in turn, can reduce the likelihood that children will misuse or become addicted to both prescription and illicit opioids once they become teens or adults.
It is our hope that these voluntary “parent-coaching” programs for at-risk parents — and similar, prevention-oriented early childhood efforts — will be fully funded and protected in the state budget that Illinois leaders are assembling. Investing in prevention oriented programs now will pay dividends in the future. Prevention, starting in kids’ earliest years of life, must be an essential component in our strategies to overcome the grave outcomes of opioid dependency.
Robert Berlin, DuPage County State’s Attorney
Joseph McMahon, Kane County State’s Attorney
Michael Nerheim, Lake County State’s Attorney