Federal dollars to beef up Illinois’ fight against opioid abuse

Illinois will receive $43.5 million through a federal grant to be used in the fight against opioid abuse. About $29 million of that will go to increase the availability of addiction treatment and to help reduce overdose-related deaths through prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives.

The remaining $14.5 million will help federally-funded community health centers, schools, and rural drug help centers expand their treatment services.

This year, the General Assembly passed several new laws directed at combating the opioid crisis. These include allowing individuals who have been prescribed opioids the option to use medical marijuana to treat their pain, requiring licensed prescribers of controlled substances to complete three hours of continuing education on safe-opioid-prescribing practices prior to renewing their prescription license, and allowing consumers to begin physical therapy services without a doctor’s referral while still ensuring professional medical oversight safeguards.

Opioids were involved in 80 percent of overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. About 11,000 people have died in Illinois since 2008 from opioid overdoses.

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