CHICAGO (WLS) --A new effort was announced Wednesday to address the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was in Chicago's Near West Side visiting Haymarket Center, a substance abuse treatment facility.
"We can end the opioid epidemic. But first, we have to change the way we think and talk about addiction, so that our attitudes reflect compassion and understanding" said Murthy. "Addiction is not a moral failing or a character flaw. It is a chronic illness that should be treated with skill and urgency. That can only happen if the people who are suffering feel safe and comfortable in seeking help."
Murthy was invited by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), citing a rise in overdose deaths from prescription opioids and heroin in Illinois.
"The prescription opioid and heroin crisis impacts every community across the country - urban, suburban, and rural. I'd like to thank Surgeon General Murthy for visiting Chicago and lending his support and expertise to combat this health crisis," Durbin said.
The visit was part of the Surgeon General's Turn the Tide on Addiction campaign, a national effort to educate prescribers about the opioids epidemic, mobilize health care professionals to improve prescribing practices and change the cultural perception of addiction, among other things.
The two met with patients, advocates and health care professionals to hear directly from health care providers and people in recovery.