Durbin Welcomes U.S. Surgeon General to Chicago to Discuss Opioid Epidemic, Tour Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
CHICAGO – At the invitation of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy visited Chicago today as as part of his effort to address the country’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. Durbin and Dr. Murthy toured Haymarket Center and met with staff and patients in recovery.
“The prescription opioid and heroin crisis impacts every community across the country - urban, suburban, and rural. I’d like to thank Surgeon General Murthy for visiting Chicago and lending his support and expertise to combat this health crisis,” Durbin said. “Our response must be comprehensive and involve all stakeholders stepping up to do their part. This means preventing drug companies from flooding the market, enhancing education and accountability in opioid prescribing, improving federal oversight on the volume and types of drugs approved, and removing barriers to substance abuse treatment. That is why I have introduced legislation to amend outdated Medicaid coverage policies and pushed the Administration to increase the number of patients that can be treated for addiction, so that facilities like Haymarket help more Illinoisans who are suffering.”
The visit is part of Dr. Murthy’s Turn the Tide campaign – a national effort based on the concept of “prescribers talking to prescribers.” Turn the Tide aims to educate doctors and other clinicians about the prescription drug epidemic, mobilize health care professionals to improve prescribing practices and provide the public with information to protect themselves and their families from opioid misuse and overdose.
“We can end the opioid epidemic. But first, we have to change the way we think and talk about addiction, so that our attitudes reflect compassion and understanding” said Murthy. “Addiction is not a moral failing or a character flaw. It is a chronic illness that should be treated with skill and urgency. That can only happen if the people who are suffering feel safe and comfortable in seeking help.”
Illinois suffered 1,652 overdose deaths in 2014 – a 30 percent increase over 2010 – of which 40 percent were associated with heroin. Illinois is ranked number one in the nation for a decline in treatment capacity between 2007 and 2012, and is now ranked the third worst in the country for state-funded treatment capacity. Currently, less than 12 percent of Illinoisans in need of substance abuse treatment actually receive it.
Durbin has introduced several pieces of legislation to expand treatment for heroin addiction and increase access to drug prevention programs that have been proven to save lives, as well as legislation that seeks to prevent addiction before it starts by curbing the volume of addictive painkillers on the market. Earlier this year, Durbin introduced the Addiction Prevention and Responsible Opioid Practices Act (A-PROP Act) which would reduce the number of opioids flooding our streets, increase accountability to ensure addictive painkillers are being prescribed responsibly, and support prevention efforts to reduce drug diversion.
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