Community works together to Prevent Substance Abuse

By Alyssa Donovan

February 19, 2013 Updated Feb 19, 2013 at 10:37 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- Local hospitals are reporting an increase in substance abuse among Peoria teens and Hospitals and community members are working together to do something to prevent it.

Medical Director of Emergency Services at OSF St. Francis Leon Yeh says he is seeing more teens in his E-R as the result of drug use.

Yeh said, "Last year we saw over 300 patients from the ages of 13 through 25 that came in with substance related issues."

The OSF St. Francis Medical Center Emergency room sees about 30 patients a month due to substance abuse. Out of those patients many of them are young adults.

Yeh said, "We see a lot of alcohol abuse, marijuana, cocaine and more and more we are increasingly seeing the synthetic drugs and designer drugs."

There were 32 substance or alcohol related deaths in Peoria County last year alone.

That is prompting a group of local medical professionals and community members to form the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition led by Johnna Ingersoll.

Ingersoll said, “We hope to educate and gain support and involvement from those in the community, assess the needs in the community and put a strong emphasis on youth and young adults. We believe that substance abuse prevention is something that is certainly needed here in Peoria County."

Just last year Dr. Tamara Olt lost her 16-year-old son to a heroin overdose. She didn't know her son had a problem, but she wants to save other kids before it’s too late.

Olt said, "If you are dead you can't get better, so until we can get people into recovery and getting help than you have to be able to save their life. If they die there's no hope."

Yeh says preventing substance abuse is easier than trying to help someone already in trouble. That is why OSF is working with the group to get the word out now.

Yeh said, "We are excited to supply them with data, assess the scale of the issue and then giving them feedback on what our patients need."

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