Opioid overdoses in Illinois increased 33% from 2019 to 2020. In 2020, there were 2,944 opioid overdose fatalities – more than twice the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents and more than twice the number of homicides. The increase in the number of fatalities is attributed to the rise of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Since 2013, synthetic opioid deaths in Illinois have increased 2,736%.
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The United States is in the middle of the deadliest drug crisis in our history. Fueled by the growing opioid epidemic, drug overdoses have now become the leading cause of death nationwide for people under the age of 50. In Illinois, opioid overdoses have killed nearly 11,000 people since 2008. Just last year, nearly 2,000 people died of overdoses—almost twice the number of fatal car accidents. Beyond these deaths are thousands of emergency department visits, hospital stays, as well as the pain suffered by individuals, families, and communities. The opioid epidemic is the most significant public health and public safety crisis facing Illinois.
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Current new: Last month, state Sen. Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) introduced a bill that would impose harsher penalties for people who distribute fentanyl, but would give people seeking treatment for an overdose immunity from being prosecuted for possessing small amounts of the drug. The move is aimed at saving lives and encouraging people to seek help for fentanyl overdoses without fear of arrest. [The Patch 4.11.2022]