Drug crimes have become more problematic over the last decade here in Illinois, leading to increases in overdoses for drugs like heroin and pain management opioids. To combat this crisis, Illinois legislators approved law changes that should reduce the number of overdose deaths at the hands of recreational drugs.
“I had read one too many reports about heroin taking over Illinois,” said Rep Lou Lang. “For Illinois to be ground zero in the heroin and opioid problem in this country made me stand up and take notice.”
The legislation unanimously passed the House and was approved by the Senate with only four votes in opposition. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a portion of the bill, but members of both parties voted to overrule the veto.
Preventing Heroin and Opioid Overdoses
- Law enforcement agencies, fire department and EMS providers are required to possess anti-overdose drugs like naloxone.
- Trained pharmacists will be allowed to dispense naloxone without a prescription.
- Hospitals, medical examiners and coroners will be required to collect and report data on heroin and opioid overdose treatments and deaths.
- Illinois’ Medicaid program will be expanded to cover all forms of medication-assisted treatment approved by the FDA for alcohol and opioid dependence.
- Private insurance plans will be required to cover anti-overdose medications.
- The state will expand options so drug courts can give a range of appropriate punishments to low-level drug offenders other than prison.
The sweeping changes will require precise coordination from a variety of organizations across the state, including the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Rep. Lang said he was pleased with the state’s decision to pass the law, and he plans to monitor all facets of the program to ensure it is successful over the next few years.
“As groundbreaking as (the new law) was, I did not look at it as the end of my journey, but the beginning,” he said.