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After son’s overdose, man heads to statehouse on foot – thetelegraph

After son’s overdose, man heads to statehouse on footJack Wilcox is giving new meaning to the well-known tune “hit the road, Jack,” except the line “and don’t you come back no more” would refer to an insidious drug that caused more than 10,500 deaths in 2014 — heroin.

By Kelsey Landis –

Wilcox, 60, whose son died of a heroin overdose last November, plans to walk from his Alton home to the capitol building in Springfield as part of an effort to raise awareness about an increasingly deadly epidemic.

“The idea just popped into my head one day,” Wilcox said. “I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to walk to Springfield.’”

That was in June. It took him several months to reach state politicians willing to speak with him. He has a meeting set with Greg Bassi, a policy advisor for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Human Services and special counsel to the Office of Governor Bruce Rauner.

Wilcox plans to walk from Alton to Plainview on Monday, from Plainview to Girard on Tuesday and from Girard to the statehouse on Wednesday. Depending on the route, there are about 25 to 30 miles between each stopping point.

Wilcox says he plans to ask Bassi about funding for addiction treatment and about outdated laws. An obscure section of the Social Security Act, for example, prohibits Medicaid funding for residential drug treatment centers with more than 16 beds. Funding for drug treatment in Illinois has been cut by a third since 2008, according to the Illinois Alcohol and Drug Dependence Association.

The one thing Wilcox says he wants to raise awareness about is that heroin addicts “aren’t bums on the street.” Nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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