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Tom Cullerton pushes for solution to heroin epidemic

heroinVILLA PARK - DuPage County’s Narcan program has trained more than 2,200 police officers to administer naloxone, saving over 66 individuals from overdosing on heroin.

As the growing heroin epidemic spreads throughout the state and nation, we are still waiting for the governor to sign State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) initiative, House Bill 1, to spread the success with battling the drug in DuPage County to communities across Illinois.

“We have the tools to save lives,” Cullerton said. “Every day, the governor waits, we are risking the chance another young person becomes addicted to heroin or worse yet, overdoses because they cannot afford treatment.”

House Bill 1 is a comprehensive package designed to address heroin and opioid abuse and addiction in Illinois. The legislation addresses heroin abuse on a variety of different levels. Three major points of the initiative include the following:

The legislation, which is modeled off of DuPage County’s efforts, creates a program for state and local police officers, fire protection personnel, firefighters and school nurses, to be trained in administering Narcan.

Narcan reverses the effects of an overdose for heroin, cocaine, Vicodin, OxyContin and Morphine. The drug can be administered either by injection or nasal spray.

Secondly, the initiative requires Medicaid to cover costs for addiction treatments and prescriptions. Currently, the second most common reason for Illinoisans to seek treatment is heroin, yet the state has the lowest rate of state-funded treatment compared to other Midwestern states, such as Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Expanding the scope of Medicaid to include some of these expenses will make treatment more readily available and bring Illinois up to speed with neighboring states.

Thirdly, requires the Illinois Department of Human Services and State Board of Education to develop a three-year heroin and opioid drug prevention program to address the heroin stronghold in Illinois. School districts will be given the option to adopt the program and DHS will work with the school districts to reimburse the costs.

Cullerton asserts the legislation was worked on with legislators from both sides of the aisle because everyone recognizes drug overdoses and addiction can happen to people regardless of their age, socioeconomic background or ethnicity.

“This measure is a great example of legislators working together in a bipartisan effort to address this problem and work to save lives,” Cullerton said.  “I hope the governor will work with us and move quickly to address this growing epidemic.”

Sen. Tom Cullerton

tcullerton-hs

23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations II; Labor; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); State Government & Veterans Affairs; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities.

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.