Addressing a national epidemic

When it comes to opioid use and abuse, Oak Park and River Forest are really no different than anywhere else in the country, said Mike Charley, Director of the Oak Park Department of Public Health. Local data show increases in overdoses, particularly from heroin, and mirror what’s going on in the rest of the country, he said.

Charley serves on the Oak Park-River Forest Opioid Task Force, which was established in March 2018 by the grassroots organization IMPACT, with a one-year grant from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.

Members of the task force include local hospitals, police and fire departments, and the Oak Park Public Library, which Charley called “a microcosm of the community.”

As such, the library has not been immune to the issue of opioid abuse, and the library’s Director of Social Services and Safety Robert Simmons also serves on the task force. Simmons’ input has been valuable to community organizations trying to better understand the issue, what’s being done, what can be done, and the resources available, Charley said.

Preventing illicit opioid use is a long-term priority for the Oak Park Department of Public Health as well. As the task force continues to meet into 2019, Charley said, “We’re going to have a better idea of where to refer people, and what resources we have to help the community with this issue.”

Attend a resource fair Sept. 5 at the Main Library

September is National Recovery Month, an annual event to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

On Wednesday, September 5, find information and free resources at an Opioid Prevention Day resource fair, sponsored by the Oak Park-River Forest Opioid Task Force and Women Leaders in Philanthropy. Join us at the Main Library from 10 am to 1 pm to learn more about recovery from local experts.

Watch, discuss documentary Sept. 8 at Concordia University

The Addiction Recovery Team of the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township will screen the documentary As I Am: The Life and Times of DJ AM on Saturday, September 8, 11 am at Concordia University Chicago. The film is an insider’s look at the life of “America’s first million dollar DJ” and his struggles with addiction.

A panel discussion will take place immediately after the film. Then from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, the audience is invited to join the Addiction Recovery Team for food, music, and conversation. The film and event are free and all are invited.

Saturday, September 8, at 11 am
Concordia University Chicago
Christopher Center, Room 200
7400 Augusta St., River Forest, IL

Help for students is a text away

Oak Park and River Forest high school and middle school students who need confidential support on any mental health issue can now text with licensed mental health clinicians 24/7.

  • District 200 students: Text HELP to 844-670-5838
  • District 97 students: Text HOPE to 844-670-5838
  • District 90 students: Text SAFE to 844-670-5838

This new service, Support4U, is sponsored by Oak Park and River Forest townships, the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Oak Park-River Forest Rotary Club.

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