IL Gov. Rauner launches opioid helpline; recovering addict endorses

IL Gov. Rauner launches opioid helpline; recovering addict endorses
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanuinetti joined officials at the Human Service Center (HSC) in Peoria

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Nearly 2,000 people die every year of opioid abuse in Illinois. Gov. Bruce Rauner has launched a 24 hour-help line to combat this epidemic.

A recovering addict, who wishes to go by the name of Sarah, explained the significance of this resource.

"I wish I had that 1800 number, I do," Sarah said."If I would have had that before this, I would probably be in a better place, I really wish I had that."

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"This helpline will provide a quick way for Illinoisans struggling with dangerous addictions to access resources, treatment options, and support," Gov. Rauner said, "We are focused on helping them get on the road to recovery to combat further drug overdose tragedies."

Helpline specialists are trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery support services.

Sarah explained the importance of a support system.

"You're going to start getting the restless legs, the chills, the sweats, the vomiting…so  you want to call and talk to somebody and they can help you reassure, you're going to be okay."

Sarah played sports, got hurt and started taking the opiates that were prescribed by her doctor to feel better. "I didn't choose this many people don't choose it. But I guarantee you they beg and plead not to feel that way again," she explained.

A feeling almost 248,000 Illinois residents can relate to. Dr. Jeff Ripperda, an expert in treating the opioid addiction, explains how the addictions don't discriminate from person to person.

"I've treated professionals, I've treated people who make a good living, I've treated people who are poor and destitute, I've treated people of just about every walk of life you can imagine. Any stereotypes should probably be abandoned because they are probably not true," Ripperda said.

Dr. Ripperda describes how coming forward is the hardest part, but it just takes that first step.

"If somebody out there listening to this right now is addicted and doesn't want to live that way anymore, they've lost control of their live," he said. "They can't handle it. They're going to have to admit to someone that they have a problem and need help..i would tell them to start with their primary care physician and see what type of resources they can get, to start with this new hotline, to start somewhere."

Sarah concluded with motivation for those struggling with the addiction, "Don't give up, that's all I can say, don't give up."

To reach the helpline, individuals can call 1-833-2FINDHELP.

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