Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti praised DeKalb County Tuesday for its cooperative efforts in handling the opioid crisis. 

Sanguinetti made the comments as part of a roundtable discussion with health, law enforcement, and government officials from around DeKalb County.  They highlighted local efforts such as drug court, health counseling, and expanded access to Narcan, an anti-overdose medication.

Sanguinetti says it can be difficult for some areas to get past the stigma of treating opioid addiction.  

Victoria Lunacek

Illinois is joining several states to abandon drug field testing by state police.

The test involves putting a substance in a liquid vial to confirm the presence of drugs.

The DEA, along with state police in Missouri and Michigan, have also ditched the practice; the move comes as awareness to the danger of opioid exposure is growing.

"Telephone" by Flickr User Sh4rp_i / (CC X 2.0)

More than 1,000 calls have come in to Illinois’ new helpline for opioid addiction and substance abuse.

Officials say they expected the influx of calls. The 24/7 helpline, run by Boston-based company Health Resources in Action, launched in December. It's part of efforts to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.

Mayo Clinic News Network

Government officials in Winnebago County announced Tuesday they are taking aim at the pharmaceutical industry in the fight against opioid abuse. 


Rockford and County officials said they intend to pursue legal action against companies they believe helped enable the growing opioid addiction crisis. 


Susan Stephens / WNIJ

DeKalb-area officials pooled their ideas at a public forum this week on how to tackle the opioid epidemic.

Experts in public health, medicine, law enforcement, and counseling gave their perspectives on how to curb opioid-related overdoses and arrests. They addressed topics like the lack of access to rehabilitative resources for users.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato says he’s working on a 14-week program for offenders who pick up first-time drug use charges.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

The opioid epidemic continues to sweep across Illinois and the rest of the nation. The Trump administration recently declared it a public health emergency. But some believe medical marijuana could be the solution.

Medicinal cannabis is legal in Illinois, but it’s only available to those who suffer from specific ailments like Muscular Dystrophy, seizures, cancer and more.

Jenna Dooley

The statistics are sobering. Opioid overdoses have killed nearly 11,000 people in Illinois since 2008. Last year alone, that number was nearly 2,000 -- twice the number of fatal car crashes. State officials estimate that number will continue to explode.

There are many players trying to address addiction head-on. That includes emergency responders, police officers, treatment centers, and family members themselves.

Free Webinar Offers Information On Opioid Crisis

Nov 8, 2017

How serious is the opioid crisis in Illinois? Last year, 1,900 people died of opioid overdose in our state -- twice as many as those who died in car crashes. 

To help provide more knowledge about addiction to pain killers, the University of Illinois Extension is hosting a free webinar at noon Thursday about what local groups -- including police and social service agencies --- can do to reduce opioid addiction.

Heidi Clark, Division Chief of Health and Data Policy for the Illinois Department of Public Health, will present the webinar.

Cabinet Secretary Visits Quincy To Discuss Opioid Epidemic

Aug 4, 2017
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price visited Quincy Thursday morning to hear how local organizations are dealing with the rise in opioid-related deaths nationwide.

He spoke in a private round table with representatives of local law enforcement, emergency responders, and health-care providers. Price said the opioid crisis is one of the top three priorities for his agency.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The nation's opioid epidemic has prompted Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin to start enforcing strict rules on what kind of drugs can be dispensed in the emergency room.  

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs joined his counterparts in West Virginia and Pennsylvania to call on the McKesson Corporation to take greater action against the U.S. heroin epidemic.

The company is one of the country’s largest drug distributors and Frerichs wants it to do more to prevent drug abuse.

Flickr user / Images Money "Healthcare Costs" (CC BY 2.0)

Several people with ties to a Rockford home health care agency have been indicted in a national crackdown on opioids.

Zosima Victuelles, Mylene Masiclat, Maribel Cabrera, Yaseen Odeh and Mohammad Raza Khan work for Sure Care, a home health agency with offices in Rockford and Glendale Heights. They were charged in a 28-count indictment by the U.S. Attorney's Office with conspiracy to offer and pay, and to solicit and receive, kickbacks and bribes for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries. 

Ryan Delaney/St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said the Republican effort to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act could devastate drug treatment clinics by making deep cuts to Medicaid, the government-run insurance program for low-income Americans.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office said it has used the opioid reversal drug Narcan more than a dozen times so far this year.

Medical marijuana is still new to Illinois, but some lawmakers are taking a look at expanding its use to help stem the opioid epidemic.

State senators heard from recovering opioid addicts on how marijuana has helped them manage chronic pain from injuries. Ingalore Wood of Auburn said opiates made her angry and reluctant to leave the house. Then she switched to medical marijuana.

"Pills" by Flickr User Michael Chen / (CC X 2.0)

Law enforcement agencies and health centers in central Illinois are working together to address the opioid epidemic affecting their area as well as the country as a whole.

"Heroin is definitely our number one public safety threat," DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner told The Pantagraph newspaper.

Shofner's office is among six agencies that make up the Illinois State Police Task Force 6 narcotics unit.

Tom Vilsack knows the life-altering effects of addiction. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary watched his mother battle drugs and alcohol and nearly die.

"She got introduced into this as a result of a surgery she had when I was a young boy," Vilsack says, "and that turned her on to pain medications."

Vilsack's mom spent the next five years in and out of hospitals, attempting suicide, quitting and using again.

Mayo Clinic News Network

U.S. prisons are experimenting with a high-priced monthly injection that could help addicted inmates stay off opioids after their release.

The drug is called Vivitrol and proponents say it could be effective at fighting the opioid epidemic (which currently affects around 2 million Americans).  

Unlike some older drugs, Vivitrol isn't habit forming.  However, it costs significantly more: about $1,000 a month, compared with $30 per month for methadone.  

Flickr user Michael Chen "Pills" (CC BY 2.0) bit.ly/1RgH2Na

Regulators have suspended the license of an Illinois doctor known as "Dr. Million Pills" for lavishly prescribing opioid painkillers without examining patients.

Illinois regulators on Friday pulled the license of Dr. William J. McMahon. The order says patients filled prescriptions up to 200 miles from his suburban Chicago clinic.

Investigators learned one patient was running a crew of people into the doctor's office to get pills to sell. The scheme allegedly involved Joseph Giacchino, a former doctor whose license was revoked in 2011.

Mayo Clinic News Network

Dr. Richard Ng pleaded guilty in a Federal court in Rockford to illegally dispensing drugs.  

The physician operated the Sauk Medical Clinic in DeKalb and Sterling.  According to plea reports, he dispensed drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine sulfate outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.  Investigators says he provided the drugs to undercover federal agents after a minimal examination, even after hearing from the undercover officers that they were sharing pills.  

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a drug commonly carried by first responders to address the potentially fatal symptoms of an opioid overdose.  Until recently, it was only publicly available via a prescription.  However, part of a 2015 state statute changes that.  

Lali's Law, named for a Western Illinois University student who died of a heroin overdose, established a standard procedure for pharmacists to dispense Naloxone without individual prescriptions.  

Flickr user Michael Chen "Pills" (CC BY 2.0) bit.ly/1RgH2Na

The city of Chicago says it has reached an agreement with Pfizer committing the drugmaker to disclosing the risks of addiction in its marketing of prescription opioid painkillers.

Chicago is suing five pharmaceutical companies, alleging they have misrepresented the benefits of opioids while concealing serious health risks associated with the drugs.

Pfizer Inc. is not named in the lawsuit. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office said in its announcement Wednesday that Pfizer has cooperated with the city's investigation and the legal action.