As Americans, we are in the midst of one of the deadliest drug crises in American history.
Drugs like heroin, fentanyl and countless other opioids are becoming easier to find, cheaper to purchase, and more fatal than ever.
If we look at the numbers, 91 Americans will die from opioid overdose today, 91 more will die tomorrow, and the cycle will continue until we put an end to this.
This is a crisis that is affecting Lee County, and every county, township, and community in Illinois and across our nation. This crisis does not identify political party, race or creed. As such, we must all work together to address this issue.
As sheriff of Lee County, I’ve witnessed the devastation and ugliness opioid addiction and abuse can cause firsthand, and I know the fight we have ahead of us.
Last year, I made my way to Washington, D.C., and shared my insight and point of view with our area’s top officials, including Illinois 16th Congressional District Representative Adam Kinzinger. I briefed him on the harsh realities of this issue.
In the months – and now year – that has followed my visit, I can say with certainty that Congressman Kinzinger kept his word and put a microphone to the needs of our community here in Lee County and is taking steps toward putting an end to the madness that is the opioid epidemic.
Congressman Kinzinger also kept his word in leaving no stone unturned, as he found ways to put a spotlight on this crisis and to fight for much-needed funding to address it.
In 2016, he led the efforts in the Energy and Commerce Committee to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) bill, which was signed into law. This year, he voted in favor of government spending that would be the largest investment to date in combating the opioid crisis with an allocation of $4 billion to help address prevention, treatment, and enforcement issues, and recently he introduced the Opioid Addiction Action Plan.
I thank Congressman Kinzinger, and all those who have taken any measure to fight this fight. Now, it’s up to all of us as parents, neighbors, medical personnel, law enforcement – everyone – to implement the right programs to rid our citizens of this epidemic.
Note to readers: John Simonton is sheriff of Lee County.