DeKalb-area officials pooled their ideas at a public forum this week on how to tackle the opioid epidemic.
Experts in public health, medicine, law enforcement, and counseling gave their perspectives on how to curb opioid-related overdoses and arrests. They addressed topics like the lack of access to rehabilitative resources for users.
DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato says he’s working on a 14-week program for offenders who pick up first-time drug use charges.
“We don’t want to prosecute anybody," he said. "We want to be able to reach the program and keep our community safe by offering these programs so we don’t have a rotating door through the criminal justice system.”
Amato says he hopes to enact the program as soon as next year.
The DeKalb Police Department also wants to enact a program to speed up treatment services for opioid users who may lack health insurance or have underlying mental health issues.
Laura Meyer-Junco is with the University Of Illinois College Of Pharmacy. She says doctors are bumping up their efforts to prevent people from having opioid stockpiles in their homes.
“People will go for minor surgeries or dental appointments," she said. "Whether they have pain or not, they would refill that Norco prescription. If they have a refill on it, they’re going to refill it again.”
Organizers say they plan to have a follow-up meeting in the next few months.