Lawmakers unveil aggressive plan to curb heroin use

Legislators reveal aggressive proposal to curb heroin use

  • Suburban lawmakers unveiled a package of legislation meant to fight heroin abuse.

    Suburban lawmakers unveiled a package of legislation meant to fight heroin abuse. File photo

 
 
Updated 3/3/2015 5:55 AM

A former DuPage County lawmaker says he's seen "too many wakes" as he and others start work trying to win approval for a package of legislation aimed at cutting the number of drug overdose deaths.

The proposal includes drug education, increased use of heroin antidotes and a statewide overdose reporting system. Plus, prescribers of controlled substances would be required to undergo training on substance abuse as part of their continuing education.

 

The proposal also aims to keep extra prescription drugs off residents' shelves by forbidding pharmacies from dispensing more than 10-day supplies of narcotics that have a high potential for abuse.

Pharmaceutical abuse often leads to heroin use, backers of the proposed legislation say.

Former state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, an Elmhurst Republican, was in Springfield Monday to help unveil the package, saying DuPage County has been "ground zero" for a heroin problem that has gripped Illinois.

"I've been to too many wakes already of people who have passed from heroin that I've known. I've seen people in drug court die, and the time is now to act," Reboletti said.

Democratic state Reps. Lou Lang of Skokie and Sam Yingling of Grayslake will sponsor the plan. Yingling also has pushed a plan that protects first responders who administer naloxone to someone who might be overdosing.

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The comprehensive plan would also include:

• An increase in the number of times an individual can be admitted to drug court, providing people with more potential access to rehab instead of a direct path to prison.

• A mandate that requires all coroners to share information involving death due to drug overdose with Illinois' Department of Public Health and requires hospitals to report all controlled substance overdoses to the Department of Public Health within 48 hours.

• A measure to improve the Prescription Monitoring Program, which ensures people aren't "doctor shopping" to receive more opioids than needed, by mandating that pharmacies update dispensing information every day and barring patients from having more than two prescribers in a 30-day period.

• A mandated statewide prescription return program that would allow Illinois residents to return unused medications to any pharmacy for disposal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The plan comes with an estimated cost of $25 million at a time when Gov. Bruce Rauner has introduced a proposed spending plan that's hungry for budget cuts and the state faces a $6.2 billion deficit next year. Lang said there's a bigger cost to not doing anything to tackle this issue.

"No program that's this important should be left languishing simply because it has a price tag," Lang said.

DuPage County saved 32 lives by administering Narcan, the trademarked version of naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose, in 2014.

Lake County sheriff's office made its first save with naloxone Feb. 2.

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