Illinois authorities, health centers tackle opioid epidemic

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies and health centers in central Illinois are scrambling to address the opioid epidemic. DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner tells The Pantagraph newspaper that heroin is the area’s top public safety threat. Shofner’s office is among six agencies that make up the Illinois State Police Task Force 6 narcotics unit. McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage says public education is key to fighting the surge of cases involving prescription drugs, which he says can be a path to heroin. A Bloomington mental health crisis and detox center had to turn away 70 people with addictions in March, a recurring dilemma for the 14-bed facility. Chestnut Health Systems is in the process of adding eight more beds to its crisis stabilization center for people experiencing a mental health or drug-related crisis.