By Lindsey Rae Vaughn
Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti held a strategic meeting at the Vienna Public Library on Friday, Aug. 25, concerning drug problems.
Several county officials and local leaders were present.
Sanguinetti talked about how people get addicted to drugs, specifically opioids.
“[Opioids] are far different from any other drug,” Sanguinetti said.
She also discussed unveiling a plan very soon on how to address the opioid epidemic, which may include a testing scheme similar to that from Countrywide Testing and other experts in the field.
After addressing those in attendance, Sanguinetti acknowledged several individuals and asked for their perspective on the drug issues in Johnson County.
City of Vienna police chief Jim Miller, said the county had their first case of heroin in Vienna two years ago. He also said the police department is always in a fight with opioids and has a heavy load of pill cases.
States attorney Tambra Cain-Sharp said the bulk of county crime is drug related. She said meth is the largest problem and heroin is a hard drug to track.
Later in the meeting, she emphasized the awareness of proper drug disposal in the county.
County officials, including most of those in attendance, hold a quarterly safety meeting at Vienna High School in an effort to address drug prevention in the schools.
Nancy Holt from Southern Seven Health Department said they have tried working with providers to have them registered with a prescription monitoring program in an attempt to stop “doctor shopping.”
Executive director for Family Counseling Center, Inc. Sherrie Crabb said addiction starts with the prescribers.
“We need more funding to combat this issue,” Crabb said.
Sanguinetti said they are trying to tell prescribers and pharmacists that people doesn’t need to be pumped with drugs.
She also suggested that doctors needed to learn more about pain management and transitioning versus giving out more drugs.
Sanguinetti said many people who are addicted to drugs have some level of mental health issues.
Prescription of pills is instant, whereas an appointment with a psychiatrist may take 4-5 months.
Vienna High School superintendent Josh Stafford pointed out that the school hasn’t had a drug prevention program in five years due to budget cuts.
However, he also relayed news that a grant through Family Counseling Center will provide substance abuse prevention in the grade schools and high school for the next three years.
“We’ve been reactive, not proactive,” Stafford said.
Sanguinetti ended the meeting commending county officials on all the hard work they have done and offered to come back to the county in the future.