Gov. JB Pritzker announces plan to prevent deaths from opioid addiction

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker announced Monday a plan to prevent deaths from opioid addiction in Illinois.

The governor's overdose action plan provides new resources to help tackle addiction and the opioid crisis especially in Black and Latinx communities.

"From homelessness, to hunger, to disease, to the struggles of getting and keeping the job, we strive to address this in everything from our rental assistance programs, to food and nutrition access to the overdose action plan that we present today," Governor Pritzker said. "We're working to end the racial disparities that come from historical institutional failures. Recovery belongs in all of our communities, but accessibility is key to getting people on the road to success."

The plan is already in the works. The governor said the Department of Human Services is providing help via a mobile van with mobile medication-assisted recovery.

The overdose action plan is also concentrating on expanding overdose education by providing kits with naloxone, a medication that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose. Fifty thousand kits have already been distributed, with more to come.

The West Side Opioid Task Force is on the front lines of the flight against this deadly epidemic.

"The whole West Side is flooded with overdoses," said Roger Stiff who does outreach for the task force.

For many people battling opioid addiction, outreach experts argue that's just one of many issues they're facing. And in order to help them beat their addiction they believe you have to address the other issues as well.

"It wasn't that type of help when I was out here," said Gail Richardson, an outreach specialist for the West Side Opioid Task Force.

She knows what it's like to live with an addiction. Richardson now uses her experiences to help others. She passes out life saving medication to help reverse overdoes.

"It's pretty bad. We work on hot spots where we know they are selling a lot of drugs at," Richardson said.

She said it's important to provide long term solutions for the people she sees out on the streets. She believes Pritzker's plan does that.

"People have to know what's out here. We have to network, let people know there is help out here," she said.

State Representative La Shawn Ford agrees. His district includes the West Side.

"That's why this plan is important becase now we are going to be able to use a plan to help with prevention, treatment and recovery," Ford said.
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