News Local/State

A Face Of Addiction: New Illinois Opioid Task Force

Andrew Dewey.

Andrew Dewey became addicted to opioids, and is now in recovery. Matthew Penning/NPR Illinois

A new task force has been formed to combat opioid abuse in the state.

Earlier this month representatives of state agencies and advocates came together to announce the State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan.

Since 2013 - deaths due to heroin have almost doubled, while the amount of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses has quadrupled, according to the state’s public health department.

Andrew Dewey became addicted to opioids after being prescribed Vicodin for a back injury.

He says it eventually led to heroin use, "My eye sockets were all blackened - I had lost so much weight. I know it sounds cliché (but) I didn't recognize the man in the mirror."

Dewey, a UIS student and graduate research assistant for Illinois Issues, says in-patient treatment helped save him. Three areas of focus for the plan include prevention, treatment and response. A task force to implement it will be co-chaired by the Lt. Gov. and head of the state's health department.

Listen to the interview with Dewey, who was part of a press conference announcing the plan earlier this week.