Opioid task force members hear from former addict in Urbana

Opioid task force members hear from former addict in Urbana

URBANA — High childhood responsibility and a lack of attention from his single mother caused Dustin Brown's first domino to fall.

It led to rebellion and 16 years addicted to opioids, aided by a lack of prescription monitoring.

"What got me started was trying to fill a huge hole that came from a lot of different places," Brown said about addiction.

Brown, now the director of Jesus House recovery center, spoke at Thursday's meeting of local health officials and members of Gov. Bruce Rauner's new Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. It was held at the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System offices and moderated by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti.

The public discussion was the second stop on a statewide tour to get feedback on the task force's Opioid Action Plan. The plan's main goal is to reduce state opioid deaths by 33 percent in three years.

Opioid-overdose deaths rose 76 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to the governor's office.

Those who misuse prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Many of the speakers said substance abuse isn't bound by neighborhood, race or class. Additionally, they noted how there's no one cause or solution for it.

Task force co-chair Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the IDPH, said a key factor in fighting substance abuse is removing the stigma around it and mental illness altogether.

"Imagine a world in which a cancer patient got treatment, relapsed and we said, 'That's your fault; you're not getting any more treatment,'" Shah said.

Brown recommended that addiction treatment should focus more on the basic life skills that a person with addiction encounters right after completing a recovery program. He said that could help avoid relapses.

"We're lacking people willing to come alongside and help with real life stuff — turning off the lights, putting laundry away," Brown said. "In addiction, we forget how to live."

Attending Thursday's discussion were some state and federal representatives, and area residents had time to bring their concerns to them. Increased access to medical marijuana topped many lists.

Those commentators, including a veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, noted medical marijuana's natural ingredients and said painting marijuana as a gateway drug is generalizing too broadly.

Illinois is in a pilot phase of legalized medical marijuana, despite a federal ban on the drug. Sanguinetti said she has multiple sclerosis, one of the conditions that can receive medical marijuana treatment, but she chose to not go that route.

"I welcome it. Medical marijuana has been a big issue," Sanguinetti said about the comments. "We have public comment because our (action) plan couldn't have addressed everything."

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup asked the representatives for more toxicology testing money and a convenient paperwork process for accessing prescription records.

"We're running into drugs we've never seen before, and we don't have labs that can test for them," Northrup said. "Sometimes, we have to say, 'Here's what we think happened, but we can't afford more testing.'"

Alan Jones, chief deputy of the Champaign County Sheriff's Office, echoed problems with data sharing and said jails shouldn't be used for substance abuse or mental health treatment.

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Local Yocal wrote on October 13, 2017 at 7:10 am
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Alan Jones, chief deputy of the Champaign County Sheriff's Office, echoed problems with data sharing and said jails shouldn't be used for substance abuse or mental health treatment.

Then end the drug war.

Champaign-Urbana Public Hea... wrote on October 13, 2017 at 8:10 am

If you are addicted to opiates (pain killers, heroin, etc.) or if you have friends or familiy members who are, please contact Julie at Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD).  We can provide you with traiing and Naloxone to help you prevent or reverse an overdose.  

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) started training and distribution of naloxone to persons with opioid use disorder (OUD) and their families and friends in 2010, after passage of the Drug Overdose Prevention Law. The first people trained were those in SWAP, our syringe exchange program.  The naloxone program has expanded based upon peer referrals.  

The opiate overdose death rate in Champaign County has been steadily dropping since the program started.  In 2013, the opiate overdose death rate in Champaign County was 14.39 per 100,000.  In 2016 it had decreased to 3.36 per 100,000.  We need your help to prevent even more deaths! 

Please call Julie at 217-202-0657 for information on how to prevent opiate overdoses.  We can also assist with referrals for medicine-assisted treatment.  There are now opiate overdose resources throughout Illinois.  We can link you to resources all over the state.