Community Leadership Forum on Heroin Prevention
On March 7, 2014 I convened a Community Leadership Forum on Heroin Prevention at the Kane County Government Center in Geneva, Illinois. This timely forum brought together a diverse array of experts and local and state leaders —including law enforcement, drug courts, elected officials, educators, treatment providers and recovery centers—to share resources and ideas to tackle the growing threat of heroin addiction and opioid abuse in northern Illinois. Participants represent all seven of the collar counties, including Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage, Kendall, DeKalb and Will counties.
At the forum, we came together as a single community to exchange ideas about what is working, what needs improvement and how our combined resources can be a force multiplier in fighting the growing epidemic in our communities. My goal was to create a collaborative environment where participants would share information, discuss concerns and recommend strategic initiatives that leadership can implement to combat the heroin epidemic in our communities.
Participants divided into breakout tables where we discussed what barriers to partnerships existed and what improvements should be made in the following areas:
- Primary prevention—Focus on preventing or delaying the initiation of substance use.
- Secondary prevention—Treating substance abuse and stopping the regular use of drugs.
- Tertiary prevention—Lifetime management and overdose prevention.
The participants then identified next steps they could take in addressing the barriers, which individuals and organizations can work together, where the next steps should happen and when.
We want to establish a prevention framework—one that looks at outcomes and focuses on how to get there—that stretches and leverages our resources in the 14th District and beyond the collar counties throughout Illinois.
Below is a summary of the forum and a community action plan. This includes additional input and revision from the participants, as well as the community as a whole. I trust this action plan will work for our community and that all interested parties are collaboratively pursuing it. We want to keep developing and modifying a model our community can and must pursue to combat heroin and opioid abuse together. We must continue to break down barriers in our communities and make a lasting impact for the good.