To address the rapidly increasing opiate problem in Lake County, in which 69 Lake County residents have died due to heroin and other opiates – doubling in just 5 years. Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim called on local stakeholders to develop a comprehensive opioid prevention strategy for Lake County.
Several groups including Nicasa Behavioral Health Services, Live4Lali, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, George Filenko Chief of Round Lake Park Police Department and Commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force and Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy worked together to develop the outline for the opioid prevention plan – considered a model for Illinois, and for the nation.
“A single person that dies as a result of opioid overdose is one person too many. Prevention and awareness through education is imperative in order to resolve this increasing problem.” said State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim.
Chief George Filenko adds, “The opioid/heroin epidemic has caused an increase in gang activity and violence, not to mention devastation to lives of addicted individuals and their loved ones.”
“Opioid misuse and overdose touches every inch of the community, whether it is obvious or not. Treatment providers, recovery groups, schools, first responders, the health department, even businesses and religious organizations-to name a few, need to unite in order to develop effective strategies.” says Bruce Johnson.
According to the Lake County Coroner’s Office, this year 11 deaths have occurred that involve heroin, surpassing the number of deaths in the same category from May 2012. Three overdose deaths resulted from a combination of heroin and cocaine in 2013.
“Losing my brother, Alex, 20, to an overdose felt like I lost half of myself. However, he was the one who paid the ultimate price. The devastation caused amongst the thousands of families in Lake County dealing with their loved one’s addiction or related death is heartbreaking, and is often suffered in silence due to the stigmatization of drugs. We need a new strategy to deal with the monumental consequences of this epidemic.” says Chelsea Laliberte, Executive Director of Live4Lali.