The Southwest Coalition for Substance Abuse Issues

Illinois Faces Fentanyl Epidemic

Announced on February 14, 2017 5:54 pm

Policymakers and drug treatment groups are working to try to get ahead of the state’s opioid epidemic as it changes and grows.

Fentanyl is on the verge of overtaking heroin as the main cause of opioid overdose deaths in DuPage County, says Coroner Dr. Richard Jorgensen.

He says the number of straight fentanyl deaths jumped from 8 to 16 between 2015 and last year.  (Heroin laced with fentanyl accounted for 7 deaths in 2015 and 26 in 2016.)

That’s the future of the problem for the city and suburbs, he predicts.

It’s one that appears to have snuck up on members of the Chicago Area Opioid Task Force after they conducted several public hearings on heroin while crafting a bill in 2015.

State Representative Lou Lang says they’ll have to amend the law to include the synthetic opioid.

A task force meeting at a treatment center on Chicago’s west side this morning also touched on overprescription of opiates by doctors and dentists and more education of kids about the problem before they’re tempted to try it.

The location was fitting as State Representative LaShawn Ford says the west side has more fentanyl deaths than any other place in the country.

The Chicago Democrat wants Governor Bruce Rauner to declare the issue a health crisis so that treatment centers can be at the front of the line for payment from the state as it continues to operate without a budget.

By Nancy Harty, WBBM Newsradio

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