Author Archives: lakecountytaskforce

Medical Organizations Form Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse

awareA group of 27 major medication organizations has formed a task force to reduce opioid abuse. The groups are urging physicians to register for and use state-based prescription drug monitoring programs when considering whether to prescribe opioids to patients.

The task force also hopes to improve doctors’ education on safe, effective and evidence-based prescribing, according to HealthDay. The initiative includes a new web page with information about drug monitoring programs.

The initiative is headed by the American Medical Association (AMA). “We have joined together as part of this special task force because we collectively believe that it is our responsibility to work together to provide a clear road map that will help bring an end to this public health epidemic,” AMA Board Chair-Elect Dr. Patrice Harris said in a news release. According to the AMA, 44 Americans die every day from overdoses of opioids.

Other medical organizations that are part of the task force include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Dental Association.

Harris said the initiative aims to reduce opioid abuse while helping patients who are dealing with physical pain. “America’s patients who live with acute and chronic pain deserve compassionate, high-quality and personalized care, and we will do everything we can to create a health care response that ensures they live longer, fuller and productive lives,” she said.


Daily Herald– Despite progress, heroin fight in suburbs far from over

Hope and disappointment.

They’re the two most common sentiments shared by leaders of suburban anti-heroin efforts.

IL_DHThe good news in the fight against heroin is lives are being saved.

An opiate overdose reversal drug called naloxone, also known as Narcan or Evzio, has made its way to police officers in most departments in DuPage and Lake counties. Efforts to expand its availability continue in Cook, Kane and McHenry counties.

First-responders using the antidote in DuPage saved 34 lives last year. In Lake County, 23 lives have been saved since December. In Kane County, sheriff’s deputies made their second save July 10, and McHenry County first-responders also recently made their first save.

“I’m not happy that we have people overdosing, but I’m ecstatic that we have had so much success in such a short amount of time,” Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko said. “The whole purpose on the law enforcement end was to get this into police officers’ hands and start saving lives.”

Filenko helped start the Lake County Opioid Initiative in 2014 with three other people. The group, which helped equip officers with the heroin antidote, has grown to more than 200 members.

Read the complete article at

NEWS-SUN: Two-time heroin overdose survivor now helps others


Twice as a teenager, Chris Reed woke up gasping for air after being chemically revived from overdoses involving heroin.

The second close call shook Reed out of his descent into alcohol and drug addiction. Now 24, the McHenry County resident has children, a regular job and runs an addiction recovery program and a sober bar.

Without naloxone, a counter-acting agent that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, it’s unlikely this happy chapter in Reed’s life would have been possible.

Reed, in fact, says he would be dead if he had not been injected with the life-saving drug. Looking back on those haunting moments, Reed said he can’t remember slipping out of consciousness. “You don’t know it, you just kind of pass out. When you are overdosing you are not aware of anything,” Reed said.

For the rest of the article go here.

Heroin overdoses spike in Lake County over the 4th of July weekend.

Over the past weekend there have been five reported overdoses within several Lake County communities. All five victims were revived by first responding police officers via the use of Naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote. This is a substantial spike in overdoses within a short period of time related to heroin. All 5 victims were revived, however, the amount of overdoses in a short period of time could be caused by a number of factors including additive and potency and should be of great concern to the communities across Chicago and the collar counties. In conjunction with the Lake County Opioid Initiative and Live4Lali, agencies across Lake County are coordinating information submitted by each responding law enforcement agency.

Live4Lali  and the Lake County Opioid Initiative encourages emergency departments and emergency response services, health care providers, substance abuse treatment providers, public safety first responders, and the general public to exercise increased vigilance in promptly identifying suspected overdose patients and taking appropriate action. Symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Awake, but unable to talk
  • Body is very limp
  • Face is very pale or clammy
  • Fingernails and lips turn blue or purplish black
  • For lighter skinned people, the skin tone turns bluish purple, for darker skinned people, it turns grayish or ashen.
  • Breathing is very slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped
  • Pulse (heartbeat) is slow, erratic, or not there at all
  • Choking sounds, or a snore-like gurgling noise (sometimes called the “death rattle”)
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unresponsive to outside stimulus

Immediately dial 911 if you suspect an individual is overdosing. The Good Samaritan Law provides protection to people who call 911 to report drug overdoses. This law is intended to encourage people to report drug overdoses as soon as possible, even if drugs are present at the scene.

Live4Lali’s Overdose Prevention and Naloxone distribution program trains opioid users and their families, health providers and first responders on how to prevent, recognize, and intervene during an opioid overdose using auto-injectable Naloxone (Evzio). Those interested in overdose prevention training can contact Live4Lali at 844.584.5254 or

Sports Illustrated– How painkillers are turning young athletes into heroin addicts

Last weeks issue of Sports Illustrated has a compelling piece on prescription drug abuse and the jump to heroin addiction.

Roman Montano had barely learned cursive when he was asked to sign his first baseball. Parents of teammates had watched him dominate game after game in Albuquerque’s Little League during the summer of 2000, mowing down batters and belting home runs. The autograph requests were mostly facetious, but what they signified was clear: The kid was going somewhere.

The next few years only confirmed that notion. Roman grew to 6’6″ and 250 pounds. He made a mockery of the weight room at Eldorado High and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9. As a sophomore defensive lineman he was honorable mention all-state in Class 5A. He also joined the basketball team his senior year, giving in to the pleadings of the coach, and was instantly the Eagles’ best player. And after high school, when he trained with the legion of MMA fighters based in Albuquerque, they encouraged him to compete as a heavyweight.

Baseball, though, was always his favorite sport—”the most funnest,” as he had put it to the Albuquerque Tribune when he was 12. He once struck out all 18 batters in a Thunderbird League game. The towering righty was Eldorado High’s ace, his fastball reaching the 90s. The second starter? Ken Giles, now a flame-throwing Phillies reliever. “You’re talking about a guy with a ton of potential: size, natural ability, attitude,” Giles says. “Everyone wanted to be him, but everyone wanted to be around him, too. The first word I would use to describe Roman is lovable.”

For the complete article on Sports Illustrated site please go here.

45% of painkiller users do not know they are taking opioids

Forty-five percent of Americans who use opioid prescription painkillers do not realize they are taking an opioid, or that the drug is just as addictive as heroin, according to a National Safety Council survey. In fact, opioid painkillers and heroin have nearly identical chemical makeups and produce the same effects.

Drug overdoses, largely from opioid painkillers, are a leading cause of unintentional injury death for American adults. The epidemic is a primary focus of National Safety Month, observed each June.

“Americans should not be fooled: an opioid painkiller is the equivalent of legal heroin,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “The drugs in our medicine cabinets can be just as addictive as illicit ones.”

Other Council survey findings exposed additional disconnects in education and behaviors around opioid painkiller use. The survey found nearly 9 in 10 opioid painkiller users are not concerned about addiction, despite 67 percent saying they believe the drugs are more addictive than other types of prescriptions.

The survey also showed many people are not familiar with formulary names. Just 29 percent of survey respondents said they had taken an opioid painkiller, but that increased to 42 percent when they saw common opioid brand names such as Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin.

For more information about opioid painkiller abuse, visit

Overdose Awareness Necklaces

These special artisan necklaces were made in memory of Mikey Santini, who passed away from a heroin overdose in March 2015. Mikey felt that one more person helped was one less person suffering. In exchange for a donation, you will receive your special “Mikey’s Message” necklace by following the ordering instructions below. These awareness necklaces are a tribute to him and are made by his sister, Jessy Santini.

Necklaces are made of .925 sterling silver and Swarovski crystals. The purple crystals represent the international overdose awareness colors, and the number of crystals represents the 8th month of the year, overdose awareness month.

Go here to buy.

ALL proceeds are tax-deductible and go to a 501c3 nonprofit organization, Live4Lali . They have made it their mission to assist individuals, families and communities dealing with mental health and substance use by providing drug and overdose prevention education and training, advocating for state and federal legislative change, and guiding these vulnerable populations to support, treatment and recovery.

Please help support the fight for opioid and overdose awareness!

16 lives saved by county Naloxone effort.

The Naloxone program that has been instituted here in Lake County has been saving lives, 16 and counting since Christmas day! If you look in the upper right hand corner of the home page you can see the tab that say 16 lives saved, if you click on that it will take you to a listing of the lives saved with the police departments and the officers responsible listed.

The number on this tab will change to reflect the number of lives saved, but it will always be in that place on the website.

Great Press for the Initiative in today’s HuffPo!

In an article in today’s Huffington Post Michael Bottecelli the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy or Drug Czar has the following to say about community policing and drug overdoses. Included in his remarks is this paragraph talking about what we do here in Lake County.

“There is also collaboration taking place in rural and suburban communities. In Illinois, the Lake County State’s Attorney has partnered with various county agencies, including the Lake County Health Department; drug courts; police and fire departments; health, advocacy and prevention organizations; and local pharmacies to develop and implement an opioid overdose prevention plan. As of February 2015, the Lake County Health Department had trained 828 police officers and 200 sheriff’s deputies to carry and administer naloxone, and more departments have requested this training.”

What follows is the article in context.

Community Policing and Drug Overdose: Where You Live Doesn’t Have to Determine Whether You Survive an Overdose

The odds of surviving a drug overdose, much like the odds of surviving a heart attack, depend on how quickly the victim receives treatment. But access to naloxone — which can reverse heroin and prescription drug overdoses — varies greatly across the country, even though all drug poisoning deaths have surpassed traffic crashes as the most lethal cause of preventable injury. Because police are often the first on the scene of an overdose, the Obama Administration has strongly encouraged local law enforcement agencies to train and equip their personnel with naloxone.

Yesterday, the President traveled to Camden, New Jersey, a city that’s taken steps to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely, and reduce crime in the process. Yet another area where the Camden County Police Department is taking the right steps is with its creation of an overdose prevention program. This program has reversed 68 overdoses since it started a year ago. Across New Jersey, law enforcement officers have used naloxone to respond to overdoses 888 times since 2014.

By engaging with law enforcement in naloxone administration, we are truly pursuing a 21st-century approach to drug policy and community policing — one that combines public health with public safety.

Recently I met Corporal Nicholas Tackett, a police officer from Anne Arundel County in Maryland. Corporal Tackett has witnessed about 50 drug-related overdoses in his law enforcement career.

He knows the signs of overdose, the looks on their faces. Now, with naloxone, he has a tool that enables him to save lives. Corporal Tackett brought me to the locations where his use of naloxone reversed the life-threatening overdoses of two people. Naloxone works, and it is an incredibly important tool.

For the rest of the article and the mention of us, follow this link.

Leading safety into the future: Prescription drug overdoses