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Foster and Community Leaders Discuss Strategies for Fighting Opioid Abuse

Feb 8, 2016
Press Release

Joliet, IL – Today, Congressman Bill Foster brought together community leaders to discuss the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic happening throughout the Eleventh Congressional District and the country.

The annual event was held at the Will County Health Department in Joliet, Illinois, and featured presentations from local governmental organizations and community groups focused on ending the spike in heroin, prescription drugs, and other opioid-related deaths.

“I am glad to hear that there has been an increased effort on this issue over the past year,” Foster said. “We still have a long way to go to stop the spread of opioids, but we are seeing improvements made on the federal, state, and local levels of government, as well as by partners in our community, that have been encouraging. We need comprehensive action to deal with what has become a national problem.”

The discussion featured presentations from Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Sr., Armando Reyes of the Will County Health Department, Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow, Dr. Richard Jorgensen of the DuPage County Narcan Program, Mark Piccoli of the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group, and Brian Hazard of the Southwest Coalition for Substance Abuse.

“We are thankful Congressman Foster continues to be the voice of Will County in Washington on the issues regarding heroin abuse,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Sr. “I am proud of the work we have done locally. We have trained police officers in all departments across Will County, including our Sheriff’s Department, to administer Narcan and we are expanding on our partnership with Robert Crown to offer a heroin prevention curriculum in our schools. Together, we can find a solution to fight the horrible disease of addiction.

“In order to reduce heroin use, we must continue to work together as a community, addressing the heroin problem through education, prevention, treatment and enforcement,” said Mark Piccoli, Director of the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group.

“The Southwest Coalition for Substance Abuse Issues has been actively addressing the evolving priorities of prevention and treatment professionals and meeting the substance use-related needs of the community for nearly 40 years,” said Brian Hazard of The Southwest Coalition for Substance Abuse Issues. “Originally concentrated in Will County, the Coalition has grown to encompass the region southwest of Chicago and extending as far west as Rockford. Membership is comprised of a diverse mix of individual professionals and agencies committed to a long-standing tradition of educating and informing local legislators and public officials on the current trends and needs in the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment. The Southwest Coalition remains deeply involved in the urgent effort to address the rising heroin epidemic through its annual forum, now hosted in collaboration with H.E.R.O. and Will County H.E.L.P.S.”

“Heroin and prescription pain medicine abuse is a serious problem in every state, county and town in Illinois,” said Dr. Richard A. Jorgensen of the DuPage Narcan Program. “It knows no boundaries and affects all levels of society. Unfortunately, it is getting worse and attacking and killing our youth. We must fight this battle through education, proper treatment and strong law enforcement.”