Senator Dick Durbin met with health experts in DuPage County Friday morning to discuss the ongoing heroin and opioid crisis.
“There is no suburb too wealthy, no town too small to be spared, it is statewide, it is virtually nationwide” said Durbin.
The Democratic senator is sponsoring legislation to improve how painkillers are prescribed, expand treatment programs, and increase access to drug prevention programs.
“A few years ago a conversation about addiction was really about moral failing, why don’t they have the strength, why can’t they just say no?”
He says that conversation is different today.
“It is about a medical challenge that needs to be confronted with treatment and with the knowledge that it’s rampant”.
Durbin calls pain management “critical”, but says painkillers are heavily overproduced, which leads to addiction.
“We produce enough opioid pills to give every adult in America a one month prescription. That is far beyond what is needed for pain management” he said.
According to Senator Durbin, Illinois had 1,652 overdose deaths in 2014. Forty percent of those deaths were associated with heroin.
Last month, Illinois Republican Congressman Bob Dold discussed how Congress is trying to combat the opioid epidemic in the weekly Republican address.
Representative Dold also sponsored “Lali’s Law”, which increases access to the antidote Naloxone for states through a grant.
The bill passed out of committee last week, and is expected to be taken up by the House.
The bill is named after Alex Laliberte, a Buffalo Grove resident and Stevenson High School graduate, who died seven years ago from a drug overdose.
The Illinois General Assembly passed a similar provision in 2015, also named for Laliberte.
Congressman Dold also co-chairs the Suburban Anti-Heroin Task Force in Illinois.