Proposed Illinois bill would create overdose prevention sites

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 4:34 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - The CDC reports over 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2022, with fentanyl being a factor in 67% of those.

Illinois House lawmakers continue to debate House Bill 0002 bill which would allow the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services to establish overdose prevention sites in cities. For those not familiar with them, overdose prevention sites offer drug users a place to do drugs, and revived by staff if they overdose, and offer them resources or help for them to get clean.

Local law enforcement and the state attorney are concerned about this legislation, as they don’t think it’ll help.

Adams County Sheriff Anthony Grootens said methadone clinics were offered to heroine addicts back in the 70s to help them get clean, but they failed to help get users off the drugs. He said while the sites can help prevent overdoses at the location, it won’t stop someone from overdosing outside of the clinic hours later, a sight they have seen before.

“We’ve administered Narcan to an individual. Took them to a hospital. He got out of the hospital the same day and that night he died of an overdose,” Grootens said.

State Attorney Gary Farha said law enforcement is discussing ways to help deal with overdoses, but these sites aren’t the answer.

“While they may be doing it safely, these are not drugs that should be used,” Farha said.

Grootens said sites like these will cause a strain on first responder resources, as EMS is still called in the case of an overdose. He is also concerned about the safety of the staff, as sometimes when people are revived with Narcan they can be a little disoriented and can occasionally be violent. Farha’s concerned about whether help will be offered for people with addictions to seek treatment and how effective it’ll be. But also they can be a source of temptation for people trying to get clean.

Local recovery groups think the money could be used for something else.

Recovery Anonymous Executive Director Gordon Dobey said he does understand the intention behind them, but he worries they can be a obstacle for someone trying to get clean.

He explained while the sites would offer some help or assistance to help them get clean, he says he’s unsure how they will be able to reach addicts who might be focused on getting high, and not in the mood to talk. He said sites could be a temptation for relapse for addicts trying to get clean.

“You have people that are afraid of using because they don’t know what’s going to happen. Well now we are providing them a place that they can go and be medically monitored or monitored to make sure they are fine. Well that alleviates a lot of questions to that person, ‘will I make it through it? How’s it gonna hurt me? Is it gonna hurt me adversely or whatever,” Dobey said.

He said the sense of danger for someone is alleviated if they know that if they overdose at this location, they’ll be revived.

Farha said resources should be spent on building and offering more addiction treatment centers, as current ones are at capacity and have a waiting list.

Dobey said money needs to be used to help get addicts clean and not enable them, as they need to be motivated to get clean.

He said a good start would be funding a sober living facility which can help addicts recover and get them on the right path.

If you would like to donate or reach out to Recovery Anonymous for help, you can go to their Facebook page.

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