On October 12th, a state-wide opioid action plan listening tour brought Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, State Senator Chapin Rose, and other officials together in Champaign. The tour was part of Illinois’ response to the public health epidemic that is the opioid crisis. The meeting included not only elected officials, but also the people on the ground working to alleviate the problem, such as community organizations, health care providers, emergency service personnel, and public health officials. Prairie Center’s CEO Gail Raney was part of the panel.
The high points of the Opioid Action Plan Panel came at the beginning with former Prairie Center client Dustin Brown’s personal testimony and at the end with mom Connie Gyorr’s heartfelt plea. The meeting room was packed with concerned community members who listened raptly as Dustin shared his story of battling an addiction to opioids and his journey to finding recovery and rebuilding his life. Today, Dustin is a minister working with others looking for recovery. He says of his work, “God has opened so many doors for me to now give back.”
At the conclusion of the two hour meeting, during the open comments period, Connie made a plea for more help for those with an opioid addiction as a mom who lost her daughter to that very addiction. Connie says about her daughter Marisa’s passing, “It’s easy to think something like this will never happen to us, and if it does, we end up trying to deny the situation or become embarrassed of the circumstances.” Connie now devotes her time to educating grandparents, parents, and young people about the dangers of drugs.
What can you do as a concerned citizen? Talk to and educate your kids about the dangers of opioids and other drugs. Participate in local community coalitions working to address the issue of substance abuse:
A copy of the Illinois Opioid Action Plan can be found here.