Illinois Lt. Governor addresses opioid epidemic in the QC

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti visited the Robert Young Center for the second time Tuesday to discuss the opioid battle in the Quad Cities. Last month, Governor Bruce Rauner created the Governor's Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, appointing Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti as the co-chair.

Tuesday, she checked in with substance abuse professionals in the QC. The roundtable discussed several topics, including Drug Court, the Safe Passage Program, and mental health issues.

So far this year, in Rock Island County alone, there have been seventeen opioid or drug-related deaths. Last year in Illinois, there were nearly 1,900 deaths. The Task Force's goal is to cut those number by one third within three years.

"If you have a substance abuse disorder, people feel that they can't come out of the woodworks and tell their stories because they're going to be judged," says Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti.

Some substance abuse professionals say in order to prevent deaths, there must be more focus on opioid and drug use prevention.

"We need to really work on prevention, we really need to making sure there's access to treatment and be talking about what is happening and identifying what are some of the key issues that are causing this to be a bigger issue," says Heather Olson, CADS Director of Substance Abuse Services.

Funding is needed. Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti says while it's no secret Illinois has faced fiscal shortfalls, the state has ascertained $40 million to deal with the epidemic. But she says the state also understands much more needs to be done. Substance abuse professionals agree.

"It's nice that the Lt. Governor has come back to visit us again, to follow up and find out how things are going in our community but as we all know, here in the community, there's been too many deaths related to the opioid crisis and after the Lt. Gov. leaves that's where the real work begins." says Dennis Duke, UnityHealth Point Robert Young Center's Director.