Illinois Continues to Battle Opioid Epidemic

The drug epidemic in the United States continues to take the lives of thousands of people each year. Despite the many efforts put forth by advocates and lawmakers, the state of Illinois still struggles with this tragic situation. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 3,013 people died from opioid overdoses last year, a 2.3 percent increase from the prior year and an almost 36 percent increase from 2019.

The governor recently signed several new laws to combat the epidemic and help those addicted to opioids. More and more lawmakers believe that instead of “punishing” those who struggle with drug addiction, there should be more opportunities for them to receive the help they need.

However, many law enforcement agencies in Illinois are also taking the steps to prosecute those who supply drugs to individuals who then suffer overdose deaths.

New Laws

The new laws that Governor JB Pritzker recently signed included:

• Senate Bill 2535 – Any pharmacist and other professionals who prescribe opioids will be required to inform those patients of the high risk of addiction these drugs pose, as well as provide the patient the option to receive Naloxone, which is sold under the brand name Narcan, and is an opioid antagonist that can reverse an opioid overdose if administered in time.

• House Bill 4408 – Medicaid and other insurers will be prohibited from charging patients who seek drug addiction treatment a co-pay.

• Senate Bill 2565 – Courts will be allowed to include drug-court treatment programs and harm-reduction services when dealing with a defendant. The new law also allows the state attorney’s office to expunge and vacate convictions of those individuals who successfully complete these court-ordered programs.

• House Bill 4556 – Allows pharmacists and other medical professionals to hand out fentanyl testing strips. This will help decrease the number of opioid overdoses, allowing safe storage in a pharmacy or medical facility without the worry of prosecution.

Drug Homicide Law

The state of Illinois does have a drug homicide law. Under the law, it is a Class X felony to unlawfully deliver a controlled substance to another individual that then results in their death. A conviction can result in a prison sentence of 15 years minimum, up to 30 years.

As the number of opioid overdoes continues to increase, the number of police departments charging people with drug homicide also continues to increase. One news investigation found more than 150 cases had been filed against defendants since 2016, with almost half of those cases filed in McHenry County.

Contact a Will County Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested and charged with a drug offense, you need a dedicated Will County drug crimes lawyer advocating for you. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.