heroin

Evan Rushing
NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation intended to make it easier to hold drug dealers accountable when their customers overdose.

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Earlier this month it was announced the state has received two federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to combat the heroin and opioid addiction crisis. Illinois is getting $8 million in all. Money will be used to supply more of the opioid over-dose reversal drug Naloxone to first responders, and  to expand outpatient methadone treatment services.

A new law makes a drug that counteracts opioid overdose easier to get. But is that enough?

Northlake resident Steve Kamenicky is lucky to be alive.

He’s 58 years old and says he’s used heroin for 46 years, starting at age 12. He has overdosed several times and nearly died, but he survived because of the medication naloxone hydrochloride, also known by the brand name Narcan. 

Illinois State Police

The state’s heroin crisis has captured headlines and the attention of lawmakers. But in the past few years, the number of methamphetamine lab busts has crept back up, and law enforcement officials say the drug is also coming into the state from Mexico. 

USER: Hendrike, Wikipedia // USER: Deviation56, Wikipedia

Instances of prescription opioid abuse have been steadily climbing in the past couple decades across the country, and here in Illinois. According to the state's department of public health more than half of the overdose deaths in Cook County in 2014 were due to heroin. 

Flickr user: Dean Hochman

Lawmakers return to Springfield with some new ideas, but the unfinished business of 2015 will likely overshadow other topics in the second year of the legislative session. 


Chelsea Laliberte
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois now has a law meant to address what's been called an epidemic of heroin abuse in the state. But it did not come easily.

Lawmakers spent more than a year holding hearings and negotiating over how best to address the state's heroin problem.

Rep. Lou Lang
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois House has overruled Governor Bruce Rauner over how to address heroin addiction in the state.

Lawmakers spent more than a year working on a big anti-heroin initiative. It passed with both Democratic and Republican support, but Rauner vetoed a provision to expand treatment for low-income addicts.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was among the bipartisan group of lawmakers who voted to overrule the governor's changes.

Amanda Vinicky

A state lawmaker says he won't agree to changes Governor Bruce Rauner has made to a major anti-heroin package. 

It took more than a year for legislators to draft what Rep. Lou Lang says could be a model for the nation, in combating an uptick of opiod use.

The end result requires school nurses and ambulances to be equipped with antidotes, mandates the state maintain a list of heroin-related deaths, and has doctors track some painkiller prescriptions.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House overwhelmingly approved a plan that seeks to curb the abuse of heroin and painkilling drugs.

Safer Lock

Nick Gore was 20 years old when he started taking pain pills recreationally. His substance abuse turned into a dependency that lasted seven years and eventually led to heroin use and jail time.

Representative Rob Martwick wants to require locking caps for all opioid pill bottles. The caps would have a combination lock that only the person prescribed the medication would know. Gore says this could have stopped his access to the drugs.

Amanda Vinicky

Sweeping legislation intended to combat a heroin epidemic has been introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Before he became a state legislator, Republican Rep. John Anthony was a cop in Champaign, and a sheriff's deputy in Kendall County.

pikecountyil.org

Pike County has a new state's attorney to replace the former top prosecutor who accused the county sheriff of misconduct.  

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports  that the Pike County Board held a special meeting Thursday night to accept former Pike County State's Attorney Carrie Boyd's resignation. Board members also named Matt Goetten as her replacement to serve through Nov. 30. That's when voters will elect someone to serve the remaining two years of Boyd's term.  

Pike County

The Pike County State's Attorney abruptly resigned yesterday, prior to a hearing regarding criminal charges against the Pike County Sheriff.

Media reports say that State's Attorney Carrie Boyd left a voice mail for the Pike County Board Chairman resigning. Boyd reportedly cited family and personal issues.

She had filed the charges against Sheriff Paul Petty.   Petty is charged with felony misconduct for allegedly ordering a body to be embalmed before a toxicology test could be performed in a 2012 heroin death.

A special prosecutor will be named for the case.

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  Heroin use has surged in Illinois, especially in the collar counties around Chicago. State officials are considering whether new laws are needed to stop the spread of heroin and treat addiction more effectively.

The state's heroin task force met in Springfield to hear testimony from experts on addiction.

Dr. Daniel Angres, a psychiatrist with suburban-based Presence Health, says heroin use has become more prolific because the stigma has faded.

John Roberts with his son Billy in a photograph taken shortly before the Homer Glen teen’s death because of a heroin overdose in 2010. Roberts subsequently co-founded the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization.
John Roberts

Not too long ago in the small town of Coulterville, police responded to a heroin overdose call. Once they arrived on the scene, all officers could do was wait out the more than 12 minutes it took for an ambulance to arrive.

In this rural area about 35 miles southeast of Belleville and home to about 950 people, ambulance response times can take eight to 14 minutes, says police Chief Jason Schlesinger. “It would have been a lot better” if his officers could have acted right away, he says. “That time lapse can cause death.”

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The number of heroin users and associated overdose deaths seems to have gone up in recent years. In Illinois the trend of increased heroin abuse is getting reactions from social service agencies and law enforcement. It's an issue that Bruce Rushton of the Illinois Times recently reported on - he brings us a closer look at his investigation in this interview:

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Roosevelt Banister has his hands full. As program director for New Age Services Corp., a methadone provider on Chicago’s West Side, he practically has heroin addicts banging down his door for treatment.

Without methadone, addicts trying to wean themselves off heroin, a derivative of opium, suffer sweating, aching, cramps, and runny noses and eyes. Essentially, they can’t function normally. The synthetic opiate eliminates such symptoms.