Rauner Creates Opioid Task Force as McLean County Plots Strategy | WGLT

Rauner Creates Opioid Task Force as McLean County Plots Strategy

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an executive order Wednesday assembling a task force to fight the state’s opioid crisis.

The governor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force will focus on preventing the expansion of the crisis, providing treatment, promoting recovery, and reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in Illinois.

“The opioid crisis in Illinois affects people from all walks of life—small towns and big cities, the wealthy and the poor, young and old,” Rauner said. “This is not a problem that government, health care, police, schools, communities or others can solve on their own. We must all work together.”

McLean County is among those communities trying to tackle the issue head-on. The McLean County Health Department hosted a summit Aug. 30 to discuss new challenges related to the opioid crisis, including an increase in synthetic opioids and the mixing of narcotics.

Kathy Coverston-Anderson, the interim director of the McLean County Health Department, said on GLT's Sound Ideas this increase is resulting in opioid overdoses becoming more difficult to treat.

“At a national, state, and local level, we are seeing an increasing number of doses of (Narcan) that are needed per overdose,” Coverston-Anderson said. “(With) the mixing of different narcotics and different opioids, both synthetic and natural opioids (are) becoming more and more toxic and are requiring more use of (Narcan) per overdose to revive people.”

So far this year, there have been nine opioid-related deaths in McLean County. Coverston-Anderson estimates there are many more with opioid use disorder that are unaccounted for.

“(The CDC has) concluded that for every opioid overdose death, there are 130 individuals who have some form of opioid use disorder,” Coverston-Anderson said. “So for us, if you take our nine deaths in the county and multiply that by 130, our estimate is that there (are) over 1,100 individuals with opioid use disorder here in McLean County.”

Coverston-Anderson also voiced similar thoughts to Gov. Rauner’s on the fight against opioids being a team effort.

“We had 60 people (at the summit) with over 30 organizations, and we all have a role in response to the concerns raised by opioids,” Coverston-Anderson said. “We all have a role to play. We all have our own toolboxes, and it will take a coordinated effort to help us respond efficiently and effectively to this concern.”

You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Coverston-Anderson:

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