The Heroin Crisis Act

Illinois is ahead of much of the country on taking an innovative approach to dealing with heroin addiction with the passage of The Heroin Crisis Act (The Act). The Act follows the lead of the Chief of Police in Gloucester, MA, and instead of treating people charged with heroin possession as criminals, offers treatment for their addiction.

The Act increases funding for drug education, as well. It also establishes a prescription drug refund program and expands the coverage of rehabilitation programs to be included under Medicaid. The law requires all pharmacies to dispense an opioid overdose antidote like naloxone to drug users and their loved ones without discrimination, and firemen, police officers, and school nurses must now carry the drug and receive training on how to administer the drug in the appropriate manner. Naloxone is a drug that effectively reverses the effects of a heroin overdose and saves lives.

The Law

The Illinois House of Representatives originally passed The Heroin Crisis Act by unanimous vote, on May 28, 2105. However, Republican Governer Rauner vetoed the bill, citing it as a cost-saving measure. Illinois has one of the highest rates of heroin overdose deaths in the country, and the Chicago area leads the nation in the number of heroin-related emergency room visits.

As state funding for heroin treatment has been cut, the heroin crisis has been intensifying in Illinois. Part of the reason for the magnitude of the heroin crisis is because ours is one of the few states that does not allow Medicaid to provide coverage for Methadone and other heroin withdrawal treatments. Methadone is critical in helping heroin users overcome their addiction, as it is one of a few drugs that can really curb heroin cravings and treat painful withdrawal symptoms. According to the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, about 80% of people requiring treatment for heroin or other opioid addictions do not have any health insurance or enough health insurance to cover the cost of treatment. Extending Medicaid coverage to include treatment for heroin addiction means the federal government pays much of the cost. Yet the governor vetoed it anyway, right after it was passed.

On this particular issue, the Governor appears to stand alone, and a bipartisan group in the Illinois House voted 105-5 to override the Governor’s veto of The Heroin Crisis Act on September 2, 2015. The Illinois Senate, one week later on September 9, 2015, also voted to override the governor’s veto 44 votes to 11, and the Act became law upon passage.   

The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C. Can Help You

More people die of Heroin overdose in Illinois than anywhere else in the country. If you have been arrested and are facing charges related to heroin, call the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg today. If you are in the Chicago or DuPage area and need a compassionate, experienced drug defense lawyer who will help you make the best decisions regarding your heroin arrest, call or email us today for a no obligation consultation.