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Task Force begins listening tour as part of state effort to battle Illinois’ growing opioid epidemic

More than 1,900 people in Illinois are expected to die of an opioid overdose this year. The state’s growing number of opioid overdose deaths prompted the creation of a new task force that began a statewide listening tour this week, as part of a coordinated effort to identify strategies to curtail the state’s growing opioid crisis, reduce opioid-related deaths and better treat individuals battling opioid dependency.

Members of the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force met in Chicago, and heard from 17 experts, including law enforcement, medical professionals, community advocates and individuals and families whose lives have been touched by opioid use disorder. The task force is charged with developing a comprehensive strategy that brings together law enforcement, health care representatives, the education community and state and local governments to address opioid-use disorder.

Opioid-use disorder is a growing crisis in Illinois that impacts people from all walks of life, in communities across Illinois. According to the Rauner administration, since 2013 heroin deaths in Illinois have doubled and opioid overdoses have quadrupled. Between 2013 and 2016, drug overdose deaths went up by nearly 50 percent, while overdose deaths involving opioids increased 76 percent. Those overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, increased by a staggering 258 percent.

The Task Force will look at how to increase the number of providers that use the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program; reduce high-risk opioid prescribing; make information and resources more accessible to the public; strengthen data collection, analysis, and sharing; reduce the number of overdose deaths of individuals recently released from an institutional facility; and increase naloxone availability and training.

Members of the Task Force include officials from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Illinois State Police, and from Illinois Departments of: Financial and Professional Regulation, Human Services, Public Health, Juvenile Justice, Insurance, Corrections, and Healthcare and Family Services.

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