Two medical universities are teaming up to study how the opioid epidemic is affecting southern Illinois.
Southern Illinois School of Medicine and the University of Chicago have received a $1.1 million federal grant to study the impact of the drugs in Illinois' 16 southernmost counties.
Researchers say people who use opioids such as prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl are more vulnerable to other diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. The team hopes their research will make it easier for people struggling with addiction to get help.
Wiley D. Jenkins is an associate professor at the SIU School of Medicine. Jenkins says the grant provides an opportunity to find strategies most appropriate for the community.
He says "Programs designed for large cities do not necessarily transfer well to rural areas."