Illinois Rep. Bob Dold delivered this week’s Republican address, talking about the growing opioid epidemic plaguing the country.
Dold was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:
“In the suburbs of Chicago, somebody dies from using heroin every three days. And every single one of them leaves behind a family in grief.
I want to tell you about one in particular. His name was Alex Laliberte. He grew up in Buffalo Grove—just outside of Chicago. Alex graduated from Stevenson High School, played sports, got good grades, made a lot of friends—and had his whole life ahead of him. But then, during his sophomore year in college, he started getting sick. When he got sick, he would go to the hospital and he would get better—at least for a while. But then a few months later he would get sick, and be admitted once again. It was a vicious cycle. His family didn’t know it then, but Alex was addicted to prescription drugs and was suffering from withdrawal.
And then, in 2008, just a few days after his final exams, Alex overdosed and died. He was only 20 years old.
As a father, I can’t imagine the pain of losing one of my children to a drug overdose.
But sadly, too many families have experienced this loss. Heroin abuse has become an epidemic. Studies show us that people who abuse prescription drugs are much more likely to become addicted to heroin—especially teenagers, who can easily find these kinds of drugs lying around the house.
This type of abuse spans every demographic, financial situation and community. It can literally happen to anyone. That’s why the opioid epidemic demands a national response. We can’t let politics get in the way of giving people a second chance at recovery.
We’re doing all that we can to prevent overdoses and reduce addiction. I’ve worked with the Laliberte family, and many other groups, from doctors to community leaders, to not only raise awareness but to create actionable solutions.
One of the solutions that I’ve put forth is a bill called Lali’s Law, named in memory of Alex, that would increase access to an overdose antidote called naloxone. Naloxone has already saved more than 70 lives in the community of Lake County, Illinois, alone in just over one year. The World Health Organization says that increasing access to this medication could save an additional 20,000 lives every year. We’ve also partnered with private companies and organizations.
We will continue leading this fight at home and also in Washington, DC. Soon, the House will act to end the cycle of opioid abuse. The Senate has already passed a good bipartisan bill to combat this epidemic. And the president has put forth his ideas as well.
So there is common ground for action. By working together, we can not only save young people like Alex Laliberte from falling victim to drug abuse, but also help those in our communities struggling to get their lives back on track.
Thank you. Have a great week.”
The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 AM.