What I’m Watching – Red Sox Post Season Baseball! This year has been a blast as a Red Sox fan. I have also been enjoying the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House. Great series to watch in October.
What I’m Reading – Boom Town by Sam Anderson. I saw that ELGL co-founder, Kent Wyatt, was reading this book earlier this year and figured I would check it out.
What I’m listening to – Jason Isbell – Live From the Ryman. If you can’t make it to a Jason Isbell concert, do yourself a favor and check out his new live record from his 2017 Ryman Residency.
Recently the Village of Elk Grove Village, IL, hosted its third Family Support Group meeting to support families and friends of loved ones impacted by the opioid epidemic. These meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month with a local hospital group, AMITA Health. The meetings are part of the Village’s new Elk Grove Village Cares program.
By now, the majority of Americans are aware of the massive opioid addiction epidemic crippling the United States. The opioid epidemic has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, claiming more lives every year. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an average of 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. How can local government help to slow this epidemic before it causes any more damage to our communities?
In 2018, the Village of Elk Grove Village launched a new program called Elk Grove Village Cares. The Village has committed to:
- Reducing the number of opioid related deaths and overdoses in Elk Grove Village.
- Providing more “points of entry” for people suffering from addiction and help them access the resources they need to begin the very difficult work of recovery.
- Establishing and strengthening community-based resources for those in recovery and their family members.
- Educating residents about the disease of addiction, while also eliminating the stigma that individuals and families suffer.
The Village has taken a number of steps over the last several months to ensure the Village’s commitment to slowing opioid epidemics is achieved. These include a new Police Department policy that prioritizes compassion for those seeking treatment, placing Narcan kits in public spaces, partnering with local treatment centers, establishing family counseling programs, and a public education campaign.
Anyone willing to take that first step on the road to recovery from substance addiction can walk into the Elk Grove Village Police Department and ask for help. On their behalf, an officer will contact a program partner who provide a full range of addiction and recovery services and provide safe transportation to a treatment facility. Every police officer has been trained on this new procedure and no one seeking help is turned away. The goal is to help individuals access the treatment they need—so far, 10 individuals have been connected with treatment for addiction through this program. After an individual is admitted to treatment, social services personnel conduct frequent follow ups with individuals and their family members. The social services personnel are there for any individual that enters treatment.
Narcan, the brand name for a drug called naloxone, is a drug that can rapidly reduce the effects that opioids can have on the human body. Narcan is a proven effective drug used by public safety departments across the United States to rescue individuals who are suffering from emergency overdoses. Beginning in September, the Village began placing Narcan kits in every 20 public spaces, allowing for the easy-to-use kits to be accessible to those that may need them. Locations include private businesses, churches, schools, and government buildings. Training on how to recognize an overdose and administer Narcan has been provided to Village staff who have daily interaction with the public, as well as to employees of businesses and organizations that choose to display the kits in public (if you are interested, below is a 7 minute video that shows how to use Narcan).
Recovering from opioid addiction takes time. The recovery period is not only difficult for those suffering from addiction but also for their family and friends. The Village is partnering with a local hospital group, as well as working with local interfaith organizations to establish family support group similar to Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous to provide support for families and friends. The Village wants to ensure that no members of the community has to fight this battle alone.
Finally, the Village is working on a public education outreach program. The prevailing wisdom among those who study and treat substance abuse victims is that addiction is a disease. However, opioid addiction is often viewed by many as a choice rather than a disease. The Village is working to develop an education outreach program that enlightens the community about the opioid epidemic and addiction.
The opioid crisis will not be slowed by one community alone or by merely acknowledging it as an epidemic. A true solution will require the commitment of resources and funds from our local, state and federal governments along with the help of our community members and organizations. To beat this disease, we need to work together on an answer.