Sanguinetti tours Carbondale drug treatment center - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Sanguinetti tours Carbondale drug treatment center

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CARBONDALE -- Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti wants to cut the number of opioid deaths in Illinois and she wants help from medical professionals in southern Illinois.

Sanguinetti got a first hand look Tuesday at people dealing with drug and alcohol abuse as well as a facility in Carbondale where they go for treatment.

She visited the Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center as part of her Opioid Task Force, which has been touring the state in an effort to reduce the number of opioid deaths.

"The opioid epidemic knows no color, no neighborhood, no class," Sanguinetti said. "It's an equal-opportunity aggressor and it's killing our children, it's killing our elderly in very, very surprising numbers."

Michelle Bertinetti agrees. She's the Outreach Coordinator for Gateway and she said she's thrilled to host the Lt. Gov.

"I really feel like she's making an effort to see what's going on in southern Illinois," Bertinetti said.

Bertinetti believes the opioid epidemic is just as bad in southern Illinois as it is in bigger cities, possibly even more so.

"In some of our areas, we see a little larger of a problem because maybe we haven't been as proactive regarding education and prevention," Bertinetti said.

And she hoped the lieutenant governor's task force can help reduce the stigma surrounding people battling addiction.

"Right now there's a lot of stigma around individuals suffering from addiction and the disease of addiction doesn't discriminate," Bertinetti said. "It's no different than the disease of diabetes with the exception that more people are dying from the disease of addiction."

Nearly 2,000 people died from opioid-related causes in 2016 and the Lt. Gov. hopes more talks with local leaders will bring that number down.

Sanguinetti said the roundtable talks are just the first part of the task force's plan to tackle opioid addiction.

Another part is making the overdose treatment Narcan more available and launching a 24-7 hotline to help addicts. The number for that hotline is 1-833-2FINDHELP.

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