CHICAGO (CBS) — State lawmakers, other local elected officials, and drug awareness groups gathered Monday morning in Chicago to discuss the state’s growing opioid addiction epidemic — which claimed more than 1,400 lives in 2015.
Those fighting the opioid problem shared stories and concerns at a meeting at the Gateway Foundation drug treatment center on the West Side.
In 2015, more than 1,400 people died of opioid overdoses in Illinois, according to Chelsea Laliberte, executive director of Live4Lali, a non-proift dedicated to drug prevention education.
“If this was Ebola, if this was cancer, if this was anything else, this would have been handled already; but it’s taken longer, because of the stigma,” she said.
The state passed a law in 2015 to address heroin, but it didn’t include the growing and deadly problem of fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid pain medication that is much stronger than heroin or morphine.
Also, with no state budget for more than 18 months, drug treatment centers and programs have been saddled with budget cuts and major delays in state funding.