SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced a series of community awareness events as part of Project X, the aggressive campaign against illegal drugs including Ecstasy and Meth. The community forums are being held in three areas that are receiving funding for the initiative. The community forums, in Springfield, Urbana and Macomb will bring together community stakeholders, law enforcement, treatment providers and the public in an effort to crack down on the growing problem of club drugs.
“Meth, Ecstasy and other club drugs have become a serious public safety threat,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Use of these drugs impacts the entire community and that’s why these forums are important. We’re increasing awareness and encouraging community involvement in an all out assault on the illegal sale and use of these dangerous drugs.”
Meth is made with common household items that may be purchased at many stores. Ingredients include anhydrous ammonia, ephedrine (found in cold and sinus medicine), lithium and others. Meth, which is made in makeshift laboratories, has become prevalent in rural Illinois.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Ecstasy is the most commonly used stimulant in Chicago. The popularity of Ecstasy in raves and dance clubs in cities is now moving into suburbs and rural areas.
Many of these club drugs users do not realize the serious health risks associated with these drugs. Short-term effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. The user may experience a feeling of euphoria, impaired speech and loss of appetite. Long-term effects include severe dehydration, brain damage, heat exhaustion that can cause kidney and heart failure, paranoid behavior, stroke and even death.
The community forums are scheduled for October 6th at Western Illinois University in Macomb, October 7th at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and October 12th at the University of Illinois-Springfield.
The Macomb forum is scheduled from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Heritage Room at Western Illinois University. A training session for community members will be held prior to the community forum from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The forum at the University of Illinois in Urbana will be held at Bevier Hall Room 180 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. A training seminar will be held October 8 at the Holiday Inn in Urbana from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The community forum in Springfield will be held October 12 in the Brookens Auditorium at the University of Illinois-Springfield Public Affairs Center, level one. The training is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the same location.
Project X uses a three-pronged approach of prevention, treatment and enforcement to stamp out the threat of Ecstasy and Meth use before it becomes an epidemic in Illinois.
Project X is geared toward the 18 to 25-year-old population. The initiative brings together law enforcement, colleges, universities and substance abuse treatment providers in the nine areas to fight the Meth and Ecstasy problem. The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) is funding nine treatment providers in each of the Metropolitan Enforcement Groups (MEGs) established by the Illinois State Police.
The treatment providers will work with clinics and hospitals to provide intervention services for youth using club drugs. In severe cases, they’ll make referrals for further assessment and possible substance abuse treatment. The providers will develop a plan that best suits the community they serve.
“These forums are an opportunity for community leaders and residents to learn more about the harmful effects these drugs are having on university communities and to help parents prevent their children from experimenting with club drugs,” said DHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.