'The Conners' shines spotlight on opioid epidemic

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"The Conners" addressed life after Roseanne with the show's return to primetime Tuesday night.

"The Conners" addressed life after Roseanne with the show's return to primetime Tuesday night.

The family matriarch passed away after overdosing on prescription pills following knee surgery.

The show - which takes place in the fictional Illinois town of Lanford - has never shied away from talking about real life issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 115 people in the U.S. die each day after overdosing on opioids. The Midwest has been hit particularly hard by this epidemic.

Dr. Juleigh Nowinski Konchak, a preventive medicine physician with Cook County Health and Hospitals System, said there are more people dying from opioid overdose every year than motor vehicle accidents.

"Locally it is more that heroin and fentanyl are driving our overdose crisis than pain pills," she said.

Dr. Kathleen Burke is the director of Substance Use Initiatives for Will County. It was created about two years ago to combat the opioid epidemic.

"We are doing Narcan training. Narcan is the antidote to opioid overdoes. We have done all our police departments," Burke said.

According to Will County, 41 lives have been saved so far this year thanks to Narcan training. That's up from 31 for all of 2017.

Burke says no one should be ashamed to get help.

"Recovery is a life-long process. No one does 30 days and then they are done. It's something they have to manage just as a chronic illness. It's something they have to manage for the rest of their lives. There is help out there," she said.

The state has a helpline for those battling opioid and other addictions.

For more information: Illinois Helpline for Opioids & Other Substances
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entertainmentopioidsthe connershealthoverdoseheroinfentanylWill County
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