A recent survey of the residents of DuPage County revealed that drug abuse programs in Wheaton, Illinois need to expand.
The survey, which was conducted by Impact DuPage, listed substance abuse and mental health as two of the top five issues concerning residents. The need for more drug abuse programs was emphasized and mental health was stressed as a big concern among residents of the county.
The biggest risky behaviors in DuPage County reported in the survey were drug abuse at 58 percent, alcohol abuse at 34 percent and 30 percent reported that too much screen time was an issue.
In order to improve addiction recovery in Northern Illinois, DuPage County will be supplying $100,000 to start funding two projects. Half of the money will be used to create an app or tool to help people locate drug addiction treatment programs. The other half will be used to fund a drug court for people arrested for first time drug offenses.
DuPage County residents were queried about the areas the community should prioritize to improve the overall quality of life. About a third of respondents stated that the county should create better mental health programs and roughly 25 percent said that there’s a need to improve access to drug abuse programs.
The survey was one of the tools used to create a 2018 assessment, which will allow county leaders to address solutions for the major issues of the community.
Since 2011, the DuPage County Prevention Leadership (PLT) has been working to reduce the effects of the opioid epidemic after an assessment was conducted on the county’s health.
After the PLT was in place, county officials took their first step toward fighting the opioid epidemic when they created the DuPage Narcan Program (DNP) in 2014. By enacting the DNP, officials have been able to save hundreds of lives using Narcan. They also have set a precedent for training first responders to use naloxone.
DuPage County created ‘DuPage Coalition Against Heroin’ to fight heroin abuse in the community. Due to their effort, 145 people who overdosed on heroin were saved with Narcan in 2016, according to the 2016 DuPage County Annual Report.
Despite the steps taken by the county, there were 95 opioid-related overdose deaths in DuPage County in 2017, according to the DuPage County Coroner’s Office. That equaled the number of opioid-related deaths in 2016, signaling no change.
The county added to their efforts by establishing the DuPage County Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Task-force this year. HOPE was created to further establish the agenda of cutting down drug-related overdoses and creating public awareness on substance use disorder. The HOPE Task-force is a union between the DuPage County board and the county health department.
The HOPE Task-force has created a structured plan to help lower access to prescription or illicit drugs. They aim to reduce opioid use in the county and increase the response to drug overdoses. The Task-force also wishes to establish permanent programs that can help treat substance use and mental health disorders.
Impact DuPage is also focusing on reducing substance abuse in youths. The PLT is working on gearing toward several objectives to help improve the opioid epidemic in the county.
They intend to raise the number of police departments that adopted a civil style ordinance and curb the use of alcohol in 12th grade students across the county. The PLT also wants to change adolescents’ views on alcohol and prescription drugs by emphasizing the danger and seriousness of both.
Given the results of the survey, officials have indicated that they will work with local groups to create a strategy for the next four years to help combat drug abuse.