- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) - Lake County is doubling the capacity of a medication-assisted treatment program for people addicted to prescription painkillers, heroin or other opioid drugs.

The Lake County Health Department announced Monday it will be able to treat 200 patients through a $325,000 federal grant.

Overdose deaths related to opioid painkillers and heroin are climbing nationally and in Lake County, where opioids including heroin accounted for 58 deaths last year.

The county’s substance abuse program in Waukegan has been designated a Federally Qualified Health Center allowing it to add counselors, a clinical social worker and to prescribe methadone, buprenorphine and other medications that help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

The department’s interim Executive Director Mark Pfister calls the expansion “an essential next step in the regional effort to address the opioid epidemic.”

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